Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A blog post mainly to appease you, Mother

OK, my Main Reader, AKA my mum, has been agitating for a new post for a few weeks. It being two months since my last post, and with Mother's Day coming up this weekend, I thought I'd oblige.

And... I finished something! [waits for trumpet fanfare to die down] Not the epic quilt project that has been in progress for perhaps a decade, although the end of that is perilously close. Just some much-needed pyjama trousers; Boyfriend has three me-made pairs now so this latest one is for me. I started them at the end of last year and they ended up stagnating slightly through a combination of a failed buttonhole and an elastic shortage. I solved both problems yesterday and wore my finished object to bed last night. Isn't "object" a funny word to apply to pyjama trousers? At secondary school I had a particularly horrible sewing teacher who specialised in making students cry, and she banned the word "thing" from her classroom. You couldn't describe what you were making as a thing, you had to call it an artefact. As in, "Miss H is literally going to kill me, I've left my artefact at home". Or, "Quick, somebody distract Miss H, this stupid artefact is jammed in her precious machine". If you had a heat map of usage of the word 'artefact' in Britain, everywhere would be pretty much dark blue, maybe a few little yellow patches for museums, and then that school sewing room would be glowing red-hot. (If there are any sci-fi geeks reading this, no, there wouldn't be hotspots where people were watching Warehouse 13, because those are American artifacts with an i.) [DIGRESSION!]
These are really just bog-standard pyjama trousers, not fancy ones like Anna Noodlehead's. They have elastic and a drawstring, like the cosy People Tree PJs I got for Christmas; it means you can undo the drawstring to go to sleep without losing your trousers completely (TMI?). They look a bit posh (in real life, not so much in the photos) because the fabric is a fine organic cotton damask - not really my usual style at all, I'm more of a flannel girl - that I got for £4 or £5 from the remnants box at the long-gone Texture in Stoke Newington. For me that might be the main downside of shopping for all my fabrics online: no remnants box. The one at Texture was brilliant; they did a lot of made-to-measure curtains and cushions etc so there were often big remnants, and they were priced pretty well. This piece of cream leaf-pattern damask was big enough for these trousers with significant scrappage left over. My drawstring is navy blue cotton ribbon from a bundle of vintage trims I got on Ebay a few years ago. I added a little patch pocket to the back, which didn't go on perfectly and probably isn't very useful, but somehow makes them look a bit more substantial and less home-made. The most recent pair of PJ trousers I made for Boyfriend have in-seam pockets, which he loves, but I felt like they almost doubled the amount of work on that artefact.
I think I might have had the beautiful Stella McCartney bra from this bra-sewing blog post in the back of my mind when I picked out the drawstring - I'm planning to start sewing underwear. I've been thinking a lot recently about why I sew, and wondering whether my sewing is just a cunning disguise for consumerism. (Sarai often writes thoughtfully on this subject on the Coletterie blog, by the way - she's well worth following even if you don't sew her patterns.) Anyway, I won't go into that too much right now because it's complex and I haven't quite got my thoughts in order yet. But it occurred to me that I want my sewing to be of practical use, and one thing I struggle to find from the "ethical" companies I buy from is underwear, especially bras but these days strangely also knickers. At one stage pretty much the only organic and fairly traded clothing available was basic pants, and now everyone seems to have stopped selling them! So I had this kind of minor epiphany (after yet another depressing failure of a trip to M&S - Boyfriend said, "Why don't you just go to M&S like everybody else?" so I did and it reminded me why I don't) and realised that underwear is perhaps the most useful thing I could sew for myself. Useful is Good. Anyone else making their own knickers?

9 comments:

  1. I've made underwear (read panties) in the past. however the tricky bit is to find a pattern that works well with your body. I have to say i struggled at the time they always seemed to be to low, to high, to narrow in not so comfy places etc. Even with slight adaptions it was hard getting them just right. Now pregnant I have actually found organic maternity panties at H&M... felt better getting them rather then the non organic ones even if I'm not a fan of supporting the big companies. Good luck with the underwear sewing and I hope we'll get to see the resaults!

    Oh and the pj's looks really comfy!

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    1. Haha, "not so comfy places"!! Thing is, most shop-bought knickers are not perfect either, so I reckon I can make something at least as good...

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  2. On they look lovely & comfy Nina! I haven't tried making my own underwear yet but I remember reading a post by Karen over at Did you Make That, which I think included a link through to a free pattern. Look forward to seeing your next makes :)

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    1. Just found that post, thanks for the tip! Here's a link in case anyone else wants to see Karen's knickers: http://didyoumakethat.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/amerson-undies-ants-in-my-pants/

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  3. I am flattered that I have some influence(I am the mum of the blog) I regard this as my early mother's day gift. Funny and thoughtful as always - see why I was hankering for a new post.
    On the underwear front I have that rather strange book in my cupboard just waiting for you - at least 2 kinds of pants included and I think I have a link which I will send you about how to make underwear that fits - which can't be a bad thing.
    Thank you.

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    1. What can I say, I have to keep my public happy! Oh yeah, the rather strange book... Well, I'll have a look at that but I was going to start by copying my favourite pants. Underwear that fits sounds like a very sensible idea. The overlocking function on your snazzy new machine might come in handy too... x

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  4. I think I may be disguising my consumerism in making quilts that I clearly have way too many of. It's fun though!

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  5. Hi there - love the PJ's I am sure my Hubby would like a pair with in seam pockets as well.
    I was actually thinking of making my own panties the other day. I agree with you about sewing something useful - and I have made diaper panties....
    I also agree with your mum - your writing is always funny and thoughtful. I would like to hear more about your thought on consumerism.
    Krisha

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