Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Outfit for Summer Outdoors

Let me introduce you to my latest take on the Punjab Suit, an extra-long shirt and loose trousers made of lightweight cotton voile. It’s cool, protects my sensitive skin from the sun, is incredibly easy to launder, and looks terrific!

You can see in these pictures that there is no collar, but an almost Mandarin line carries the fabric partway up the neck. The top button is left open if I need extra air flow, closed if I need all the sun protection I can get – which I definitely did when holidaying on the waterways of the Marlborough Sounds last week! (By the way, this is my 3-year-old nephew, Misha. We're rather overawed by the helicopter that just landed.)

If I had to wade to the boat or fish something out of the water, the pant legs and sleeves could be rolled or pushed up, but mostly they were left at full length, so comfortable I didn’t even notice what I was wearing. Nigh unto a landing helicopter when hats, hair, and hems went flying, this lassie remained modest. When sitting for long periods in the sun, as when pottering about the bay in an outboard dingy for an hour, the sleeves came down over my hands to my main thumb joint, so not even my hands got sunburnt. Brilliant!


Voile IS a transparent fabric, which is why I chose a heavily patterned design, but with a suitable liner underneath, there are no worries about indecent exposure. I use a long stretch-knit camisole (the lace style available from JayJays) in light pink or white. This blends the top and the trousers into a seamless contour and gives me all the bosom coverage I need.

The trousers were made using a regular elastic-waist pattern. For added comfort and coolness, drop the waist to hip-level. Nobody is going to see it, and you won’t have that sweaty bunching problem.

Laundering Voile

With the textured crumple-look being all the rage this season, I’m happy to have discovered voile can be purposely allowed to crease during laundering, otherwise it needs careful pressing! After a delicate wash, I gently twist the garment into a rope until it curls up on itself, coil it like a spring, and leave it on the counter or in the drying cupboard for 5 minutes or half an hour (whatever is convenient), then shake it out and place it on a hanger. I could do this at night before I went to bed and it would be dry the next morning, ready to jump into for another day in the warm outdoors.

By the way, the shirt pattern was found at a Salvation Army secondhand store for 50 cents, and I’ve used it twice. What a bargain!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Closet Tips - Hangers

Got wardrobe hang ups?

Here are some ideas for simplifying your storage and laundering problems.

Invest in sturdy wire or plastic hangers with loop notches. Two or three pairs of trousers can be draped over the rail, or you can hang a couple of skirts by their loops. Loop-hanging skirts and full length slips can also be hung over the neck of the hanger.

Sew hanger loops into your skirts (see illustration). Affix them hanging downward, inserted in the waistband seam or stitched to the side seams.

I use cotton tape (see below) which can be purchased in rolls of black or white in varying widths. I prefer the 25mm width for winter-weight garments.

This means if you don’t have a clip hanger handy you can hang the skirt on a regular hanger or a hook or doorknob. Very useful if you’re functioning outside the home or traveling. The photograph below shows a pinafore, a skirt, and trousers hung by this method.

The blue-check stretch polyester pinafore was too heavy to be hung by the shoulders, and too long to fit in my wardrobe.

The solution to both problems was to stitch sturdy hanger loops (25mm cotton tape) on the inside to the side seam at the top of the pockets. When on the hanger, the bodice hangs down inside the skirt, keeping most of it uncreased.

If clip hangers make unsightly impressions in the fabric of your skirt, turn the skirt inside out before you hang it. This will be especially helpful if your skirt is made of corduroy, velvet, or similarly textured fabric.

Coat hangers are also an excellent way to hang laundry. We have a curtain wire strung across one wall of our wee laundry, with enough dangle room for long dresses. They are laundered using a delicate wash, hung from the wire on a hanger, and given a gentle tug in places they are likely to crease, such as the button placket and sleeves. They usually dry overnight and need little if any pressing. And no peg marks or bird droppings!

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