Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Foray into Farbenmixland

So, there is this sewing pattern company in Germany called Farbenmix.  Their style is so stinkin´cute, I can barely stand it.  I long to make clothes as cute as these!  Here are a few of my absolute favorites done by others:

Is Natalie amazing or what?  I am so in awe of the cuteness and impeccable sewing!  Visit her blog to see more.
Aren´t these the cutest little dresses?!  Visit Rachel´s Flickr to see more.         
And I´m in love with these pants!       Click here to visit Suzie´s blog, no moa.
How could I not be inspired after seeing patterns to make things such as these?  A little intimidated, sure, but I just had to try!

I actually sewed my very first Farbenmix pattern last year, a skirt called Tess, but it didn´t have all the little embellishments, just an interesting shape for the pieces:

"Wax" fabrics made here, in Lubango, Angola.

I also have their book (with Studio Tantrum, an American pattern company)- Sewing Clothes Kids Love.  I have only tried the Brooklyn Tank Top so far from that book.  I made three last month:

But this was my first attempt at a full-on, all-holds-barred Farbenmix pattern.  I decided to do three pairs of pants called "Bo".  I wanted to make some for my nephew who is turning 13, but figured that I needed to try a smaller pair first, so I decided to start with a pair for my son.  I went with the 3/4 length because it´s different, and besides, it´s hot here.


Choosing the fabrics for my nephew´s proved hardest of all!  They needed to be suitable for a 13 year old (not too wacky), durable (I´ve seen him play), but still cool.  I finally settled on some navy tiny plaid, only to find that I didn´t have enough.  *sigh*  I considered other plaids, solids, old jeans..... and settled on this tan linen with brown twill (like denim) pockets.  These were my inspiration.  But alas, the linen hadn´t been washed yet, and of course the power was out (the generator powers the sewing machine, but not the washing machine or water pump).  So, I got the kids to help me hand wash the fabric...

... and while that was drying on the line, I started on these for my daughter (and finished them later):

And here are the ones I set out to make in the first place, finally done, just in time for his birthday party.

Did I mention this pattern is in German?  Well, I don´t read German, and this thing was complicated!  I would never have even finished the first pair without the help of my German friend, Karin Baker- thanks, Karin, you´re a peach!

And it just so happens that Pattern Review is having a contest through June called "One Pattern, Many Looks", so I decided I may as well enter these 3 pairs of pants in that!

One Pattern, Many Looks  Great coincidence or what?


One more thing- I decided to write my own English instructions to go along with the photo tutorial Farbenmix has on their website to make the Bo pants.  Here it is (English version) in case you need help.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Necessity is the mother of invention (or I´d rather make something from scratch than do laundry by hand)

Well, that bout of malaria totally stole my sewing mojo!  I have only completed a few things this month, mostly underpants for my son.  I made him several pairs during the 8-1/2 day power outage during which I could not do laundry.  It was either that or buy more (bc I really didn´t want to wash them by hand).

Have I mentioned just how expensive things are here in Angola?  It is, after all, the second most expensive city in the world.  (http://www.mercer.com/costoflivingpr#City_rankings)  This is largely due to the cost of housing, but almost everything is ridiculously expensive, especially if you are comparing prices to the USA.  Here is an example:

The exchange rate is 90-100 kwanzas per US dollar.  So, that´s $38 for a Bakugan and $60 for a 5 pack of Hot Wheels!!
A pair of boy´s boxer briefs costs about $12 at our local superstore.  I think that´s too expensive, especially when the quality is suspect as well.  It´s not like he will be wearing these things for years.

Have I mentioned how quickly clothes wear out here in Africa?  It might be the poor quality detergent, the water, hanging clothes on the clothesline..... not sure.  But it´s really true.  I always thought my husband was giving away or losing his clothes when he would come back to CA after visiting Angola insisting he needed to buy new clothes because so many of his had worn out.  But I swear, things I bought less one year ago already have wash wear and holes!

Anyway, the point is, I decided to make him some myself!  And of course, I do have a stash of knits after all (I wish I could say the same for elastic).  So, here is most of his new stash of custom undies (he helped in the fabric and elastic choices for some of these).


These sewed up so quickly and easily.  I´m sure I will be making him even more. He really loves them. I am currently working on making a pdf sewing pattern for these.  So, sometime soon, you could make some of your very own too!

I only managed to complete one other thing since contracting malaria, a pair of sleep shorts for my husband for Fathers Day.  These were made to his spec´s to replace a pair that wore out (remember what I said about Angola being hard on clothes?).

Unfortunately, I couldn´t talk him into modeling them.  Oh well.  He likes them and they fit just like he wanted.  And I even got them done for Fathers Day night! 

In other sewing news, I have a dress for myself cut out at the moment.  It will be perfect for the 4th of July because I am using a plaid in similar colors to those sleep shorts.  I won´t start sewing it though until I make some pants for my nephew who is about to turn 13.  And I have to make a pair for each of my kids too.  This is my first attempt at a Farbenmix pattern with lots of embellishments, and it´s all in German (yikes!).  I am really excited about these!  Click here to see the pattern I am using and what some others have made with it.  Oh! and did I mention that my nephew´s birthday party is at our house this Saturday?  I guess you know what I´ll be doing.....

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Angola is kicking my butt...

So, I had all these plans of things to make.  I was so excited.  Then the power was out for 8-1/2 days in a row.  We do have some electricity when the power from the grid is out because we have a small generator.  But it is only powerful enough for the lights and one row of outlets.  Sadly, our water pump is electric, so no grid power means no running water.  This is very hard to deal with.  On the ninth day I finally broke down and hand washed, rinsed, wringed and hung up a few essential bits of laundry.  And guess what happened a little bit later- the power came back on- d´oh!

Wash tub on the left, spinner on the right.
So, then I tried Saturday to start catching up on all the laundry.  But I can only fit 2 loads on the clothesline, so that´s all I could do.  Also, my husband fixed the hose so it connects to the tap now, so the second load was pretty easy even.  Previously I had to fill up buckets of water and pour them into our weird semi-automatic washing machine.  Now, never mind that I forgot to check that the drain hose was securely in the floor drain and I got dirty wash water all over the floor.

And then on Sunday, I just felt horrible.  Every joint in my body hurt!  And my head was killing me.  The only relief I could find was to soak in a warm bath.  Thankfully, the power was still on.  Never mind that the first bath I tried, the shower nozzle (no faucet in our tub) that I had laid on the bottom of the tub decided to change its position and started spraying water all over the bathroom and into the hall.  Twice, I took 1000mg of Tylenol (Paracetamol), and it didn´t do anything at all.

When I still felt this bad on Monday, we went to the clinic.  I wanted to go to the clinic only one block from our house so we could walk.  There are much better clinics, but they are further away.  All the roads right around our house are dirt (read bumpy) and my spine was killing me.  Alas, the waiting room was packed and the doctor wasn´t even there yet.  So, we decided to go to one that had been recommended in Viana, only a 10 minute drive away.

We found parking about a block and a half away, went in and waited maybe 30 minutes before being called back.  While in the waiting room, which was packed and all seats taken, a woman saw I was in agony and offered me her seat.  Then she asked me what was wrong and I tried to tell her with my limited Portuguese.  She then put some oil on a handkerchief (which had writing I read later is made just for this purpose).  She stuck this cloth inside my bra strap, pressed her well oiled hand on my chest, squeezed my shoulder and leg, all the while praying in Portuguese.  It didn´t work, but I thought it was super nice of her.  She even gave us some snacks for the kids when they were leaving (& we were still waiting on results).  We ended up being in the clinic about 4 hours.  I´m not sure why it took so long to give us the results.  But while waiting for them, a stretcher was wheeled in, and when they brought it back out, there was a small body all wrapped in African fabric.  I´m so glad my kids were too busy fighting and complaining to notice because I, myself, found it hard to hold back the tears.

..........and so, it turns out I have malaria.  Drat!  Honestly, I´m really glad it isn´t something worse.  This is possibly the only thing they really know how to cure here.  And it´s an easy and quick cure too.  Just 3 days of anti-malaria meds, a week of antibiotics, some vitamins and acetominophen.  I have been on these for a day now, and I´ve only improved maybe 25%.  That is something, but still don´t feel well enough to do laundry.  It´s all I can do to feed my kids and wash a few essential dishes.  I did find something that helps even more than the hot baths..... a coffee-Nequick-lechera slushie.....yummmmmm.

This might come as a shock, but we actually have a maid here, 4 days a week.  It´s awesome!  And it doesn´t cost very much.  Actually, I just learned that we pay her a little more than the guys who remove landmines here in Angola!  However, sometimes she just doesn´t show up, and she seems to have a weird way of doing this when we really need her (like now).  And she never calls, so we always think maybe she quit.  So, of course, she didn´t work yesterday (Mon) and showed up today to tell me she couldn´t work, but will try to send us someone in her place tomorrow.  I´m grateful she came and told us something (she seems injured), but would be more grateful if someone would do the dishes and mop the floors.

So, that is why I haven´t done much sewing or posting.  I did make my son several pairs of underpants during the outage to delay the necessity of hand-washing.  I will post about those soon.  Oh!  And I honestly didn´t post this to whine.  I just wanted to explain and thought maybe those of you living in the first world might appreciate a few of your modern conveniences today knowing that some of us never realized how good we had it!