Shweshwe Zadie Jumpsuit

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Me again!  I might finally be back in the UK, but the sewing is s.l.o.w.!  I haven’t quite got back to “normal”, because life isn’t normal.  Mr W moved his office into my sewing room while I was away and he had to work from home.  Now that work can happen at the “proper” office, but only twice a week, he’s still firmly ensconced in the sewing room.  It’s hard to find room for sewing machines and ironing amongst the computer, A3 files, boxes of samples and other paraphanalia a busy architect needs.  Not to mention the constant phone calls, with and without video…

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So the sewing has been happening on the dining table, cutting out on the living room floor.  It’s not ideal, and I’m still itching to sew more, but I think we all need to get used to life as not-normal.  It’s been weird to have continual company nowadays, instead of being on my own all day!  But, I do actually have something I made to show you.

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Back in June, there were a couple of “challenges” I thought I’d join in with, the #JumpingIntoJune sewalong encouraged the making of jumpsuits, and Stephanie at Sea of Teal was promoting sewing with prints for June’s Sew Your Wardrobe Basics.  So, on the last day of June I cut and started a print jumpsuit.  Not so much jumping into June as jumping out of it!

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Pockets – nice BIG ones!

I do love the Zadie Jumpsuit, it’s so comfy to wear, and quick to make.  This version is the size 16, with no FBA!  I had realised with the last summer version I made last year, that with the FBA the waistline seam sat too low.  So I reversed that adjustment and just made the smaller size.  I’m happy to report that it’s all worked, fits properly, doesn’t gape, and the waistline is in the right place.

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The fabric is a cotton shweshwe print I bought in South Africa in May.  This isn’t the Da Gams Three Cats fabric.  It had “Cheetah Shweshwe” in the selvage, but I can’t find much info about it.  It’s wider than the Da Gama fabric at 150cm and slightly stiffer, but that will go with washing.  It’s no stiffer than the blue linen used for my first Zadie.  I love the spotty print, it caught my eye in the fabric shop immediately, and straight away I knew I wanted to make the Zadie Jumpsuit with it.

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Got to love a spotty print!

This isn’t the end of my Shweshwe journey, I bought another piece for myself which will become a nice new pair of Carolyn PJ pants, and lots of pieces that I bought for making things for the girls.  Now I just need the time to make it all up!!!

Sewing in Different Circles

Phew, it has been a while hasn’t it?!  It’s been a crazy couple of months, and so, so much has changed, some things forever.  The last time I popped in, I was sewing for the Great Module Sewalong.  That all came to a grinding halt when I got the news that my Dad had passed away suddenly at the end of the first week in March.  I got on the next available plane home to South Africa with my girls as support to do what I could for my Mum, all thoughts of sewing left behind.

Then the world went mad.  Luckily the girls were able to get home just in time before the barriers came down and the walls went up.  I had had no plans to sew much, my thoughts were of paperwork, loose ends (of which there are still many) and support for mum.  Naturally I missed my favourite activity, as well as my allotment, which I had to leave just as seeds were germinating – along with millions of weeds.

I had planned on fabric shoping however.  But in the crazy first two weeks out here, there was no time for that second favourite activity.  Then the government announced a nationwide lockdown, all but essential services allowed to operate, and fabric shopping went completely out of the window.  Now we’re into May and a relaxing of the rules, fabric shops are allowed to be open to sell fabric to make masks and winter clothing.  Yes, May in the Southern Hemisphere is winter, although with temperatures this week in the mid to high 20s, it’s not anything like a UK winter.  Or summer!  😀  Thankfully winter means no humidity, just nice warm sunshine.

Anyway, back to the shopping!!  A typical South African cloth is produced here in East London in the Eastern Cape, Shweshwe.  I wrote about it a couple of years ago, if you want to know more.  The Da Gama factory isn’t open, but the factory shop in town is, so, under the guise of requiring lots of cotton to make face masks, Mum and I went shopping.  As it’s “winter”, I decided I needed another couple of pairs of longer than cropped length trousers.  I got two lots of  2m of Shweshwe for some Style Arc Kew Pants, I’d bought the pattern in their Easter Sale with the Como Top and the Teddy Top, to go with the Teddy Pants.

But – I’d completely forgotten that Shweshwe is only 90cm wide…  2m will make one trouser leg, not a pair of trousers!  Of course, that meant we had to go back!  This time I had better plans, get another 2m of one of the fabrics to actually make the pants, and 1.5 to make an Ogden Cami to go under a thin jumper I’d brought with me.  But then I spotted a waxed cotton fabric while waiting for the assistant to cut the Shweshwe, and fell in love!  So I bought 4.5m of the best bold, but neutral print wax cotton they had.  And 7m of Shweshwe with a cream ground with brown and orange print for daughter No1.  I hope it all fits into the suitcase…  Daughter No 2 has yet to put in her order.

So, lots of shopping, but what about the sewing??  Well, I think we’ve finally reached that part of the lockdown when we’re done with most of the big jobs, and now I feel that I can take a bit of time to myself and make something.  Once I’d realised I’d made a boob with the fabric amounts, I thought I’d make a top with one of the pieced I’d bought originally.  The fabric has body even after the wax has been washed off, so nothing drapy.  Immediately the LB Pullover from Paper Theory sprung to mind.  Thank heavens I brought my laptop with me on this trip, so I had immediate access to all my pdf patterns.  I just needed to print it off.  Now here’s where mum came in useful – she and dad own a stationery shop, complete with everyting I need to trace a pattern, and to print it too!  The only downside was having to print on A4, but an evening with the scissors, tape and a couple of glasses of wine made short work of that tedious job.

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I made the 16, no adjustments.  The 2m was literally just enough to squeeze the pieces onto, and I had to piece the bias cut collar together.  There were only the smallest scraps of fabric leftover.  It was the perfect choice of pattern for the fabric, and print and I love it!  It’s going to fit into my wardrobe at home perfectly, as well as add colour and shape to the small amount I’ve brought with me.  It’s very tempting to make another, but I need to keep an eye on the amount of weight of that suitcase, especially if I’m going to be stuck here for another few months…

 

Fabric Shopping on Holiday

And a pledge…

Three weeks in South Africa, all over now until the next time.  I just hope it’s not another 5 years!  Now fabric shopping on holiday sounds like a fabulous thing to do, buy up all those pretty things you can’t get at home and grab those things that are cheaper elsewhere because of a decent exchange rate.  I really wanted to go with a fairly empty suitcase, to take full advantage of my situation, but I’d made so many lovely things for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe that were begging to be allowed into the suitcase that I ended up with just 3 kg to spare!  Oops.

No matter, some stuff taken was to be distributed, so I thought I’d do my bit to help the local economy.  Now I must add that Mr Not-Compulsive tried very hard not to let me within 5km of a fabric store, but in the end he relented.  I was directed to a store/factory shop in Roodeport called Chamdor.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large fabric store!  It was a warehouse!  Thankfully half was soft-furnishing fabric and half the dressmaking fabric was stuff I wasn’t interested in. There was a lot of fleece (going into winter), lycra and poly-blends.

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Trims of all descriptions and so many zips!
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The central aisle has end to end cutting tables, lined with anything you could want for your sewing project. Fabric stores with shopping trolleys – yes please!!

I saw a girl who was guarding a couple of rolls of border printed viscose & after asking nicely where she’d found them, proceeded to empty the shelves!  There were so many lovely colours and patterns, it was going to be a struggle to decide which couldn’t be left behind.  The price was R56/m, which I worked out to being about £2.25/m.  Man – how could I leave anything behind at that price!?!?

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The viscose I couldn’t leave benhid, I bought 3m of each, just to make sure I had enough!

Then I found the button stands and the trim and the zips and the threads and sewing machine accessories….  £55 later I emerged triumphant, two bags in my hands and a husband who kept saying, “I don’t know where you’re going to put all this.”

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The Three cats logo of Da Gama Textiles Shweshwe

And then I was good, oh so good.  I avoided all other fabric temptations until we got to the Eastern Cape.  Da Gama Textiles is based in that province and they are the sole manufacturer of authentic Shweshwe fabric.  I was going to have some to bring home, come hell or high water.  The factory shop is located outside of East London and boy was there a lot to choose from!  Original indigo sat side by side with teal and turquoise, greens, reds, pinks, oranges and browns.  This was going to be harder than I thought!

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In the end I bought a deep turquoise piece for a dress for Daughter No2, an orange circle print for Del and a striking red design that reminds me of Mid-Century Modern prints for a friend in Chicago.

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Shweshwe fabric from Da Gama Textiles
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This gorgeous blue will be a dress of some sort for daughter no 2

Now some of you know exactly what I have here, and others wondering what on earth Shweshwe is.  I could go into a huge explanation, but there are many sites you can find the information on, Meerkat Shweshwe sell many different ranges online and have a history of the origins of the cloth, Da Gama obviously have their background in the industry, and African Fabric have good information, as well as a huge range of coloured and original indigo Shweshwe for sale online.

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The 3 cats on the reverse of all authentic shweshwe. Beware of copies!

While we were at Da Gama Textiles, we did a bit of bin diving.  Da Gama print more than just Shweshwe.  There are big fabric bins in the factory shop full of test prints, seconds etc that you buy by the kilogram.  We had a little hunt for different pieces of mostly soft furnishing fabrics, and came out with a good selection of bits and pieces that I’ll use to make cushion covers, table runners and other goodies for the summer table outside.  And that was it!  Once we’d distributed all the gifts we’d taken to all our friends and family, there was plenty of room for the fabric purchases.  And 40 vintage patterns….

And now we come to the crunch.  I really don’t need to buy any more fabric this year.  No, seriously, I don’t.  So I made a pledge, and told Mr Not-Compulsive, so I have to stick with it.

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No more fabric shopping this year!!

Now I have a fabric diet to stick to and things to make…