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then some days I surprise myself

Those of you who do a lot of sewing, especially those who make clothes, will no doubt be familiar with the experience of looking at a finished article and finding it good: at least nicely made, having a quality finish and perhaps fabric, and something that you’d pay a lot for – if indeed, you could replicate it – if you had to buy it in a shop. Me? Well, you saw my recent wearable toile. Really, most of my sewing is mending or small household things. For all my grand plans, I don’t actually get much clothing sewn.

And you can't even tell that I had to redo a bit of topstitching where I ran off the edge!

And you can’t even tell that I had to redo a bit of topstitching where I ran off the edge!

I’m not sure if an apron is necessarily clothing, either. Some might argue that it’s an accessory since its main purpose is to protect clothing. Whichever school of thought you support, I made a really nice, stripey one the other day. It’s a Christmas present, of course, and its manufacture had to be slotted in around the usual chores of domestic life because I can’t sew at night (that’s a matter of simple household logistics, not so much that I wouldn’t be happy to sew all night).

Next morning, when I went back to the sewing room to check that it was properly finished – no threads hanging off or things of that unruly nature – I found myself pleasantly astonished by what a fine-looking apron I had in my hands. Wow, the pocket lines up. All the stripes align, except where I had fun playing with a contrasting alignment for the pocket, as you can see in the photo. How regular are those half-inch hems? And, gee, isn’t that a tidy bit of topstitching?! Quite a lot of tidy topstitching, in fact, all around the apron. Impressive.

All praise to my walking foot for managing to skate over so many layers of mattress ticking, which was the fabric I used to make the apron. Thanks, too, to the Purl Bee‘s wonderful Simple Linen Apron pattern and instructions. I have a favourite, tried and very true apron pattern that I’ve used to death for many, many years but decided that it was time to do something different. This is simple but satisfyingly elegant and I’m sure the intended recipient will love it. Because it’s cotton, it might have a slightly lower protective factor than a plastic or coated fabric, but it will be cooler; and when you’re slaving away over a hot stove on a 40-degree day, that’s important.

And you know that old saying about pride going before a fall? Let this be a lesson to you to look at the pictures, chickadees. I had a moment of doubt when cutting out the neck straps, because there didn’t seem to be a sufficient measurement differential but pushed ahead and followed the instructions. I even went ahead and constructed and attached according to the instructions. And, yeah, the instructions are wrong! If you go back and look at the pictures, as I did only after the event, you’ll see that one neck tie is a lot shorter than the other, not just a few inches. Oh, well, a small bit of retro-engineering was able to fix that, but I was cross with myself more than cranky with the pattern because my usual way of dealing with D-rings ought to have given me the tip.

Fabric: perhaps half a metre of cotton mattress ticking (nominally 150 cm wide, I think) bought at Spotlight in the city at least a year ago, possibly two. I prewashed, knowing it was very likely to shrink; and it did.

Thread: Coats Drima Polyester in an ecru colourway, which I’ve had for years and is no longer available (no, not white. I like that small contrast and, to be truthful, I wouldn’t have been able to see what I was doing if I’d used a white thread that completely disappeared into the fabric.).

Size: Adult; but one size given that consideration.

Changes to pattern: I stitched the hem on the pocket piece before attaching it to the apron.  That helped avoid the fluff-collecting extra flap of fabric in the pocket and made for a slightly tidier finish (just my opinion; but since ticking is very prone to fraying, I thought too that the zigzagged edges alone might not do the job). And, you know, there was the thing with the neck tie.

All in all, I’m very happy with this. I should have spotted the problem with the neck tie earlier, but it was easily fixed. So, okay, here we are a few days away from Christmas and I’ve finished one gift. Right! Will I have to resort to gift vouchers from Bunnings for the boys (they’re all tinkerers of one sort or another) and Dymocks for the girls (who are mostly rapacious readers), do you think? What’s your emergency plan?

Good luck with it all, anyway.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Sewing

 

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white fluff on a blue jacket

Today I managed to do a row and a bit of my White Caps Cowl while I was on the bus. Darn it all, the yarn made such a mess of my blue jacket that I’m revising my plans with regard to knitting on the way to work. I don’t mind so much messing up clothes when I’m on the way home but I’m supposed to look presentable for work. Hm, I might have to find another little knitting project to keep me busy.

And in the way that other people sometimes throw my plans into disarray, Dr B asked for a bandanna. He wasn’t necessarily asking me to make one, but he was hoping he might be able to find one with funky fabric for cycling purposes. In the end, I offered to make it. I spent my lunch break checking out fabric at the local Spotlight store. The restrictions related to not having flowery fabrics (or music that wasn’t Dr B’s own – no, there’s no fabric with his music on it, I promise you! – which ruled out quite a lot of options that I would have thought might be passable otherwise) or anything green (which he doesn’t much like, probably because I do) or too thick or with too high a polyester content. Ideally I wanted to find a pure cotton fabric. Quilting fabrics offer a good range but they’re generally heavier than might be desirable for a bandanna that has to go under a cycling helmet. I found some that I thought might be all right, anyway.

YoungB pointed out that cyclists wear some fairly wild bandannas (we know this to be true) but even he vetoed some of the options. His words were to the effect that, if Dr B were to wear that fabric as a bandanna he (YoungB) would have to laugh at him (Dr B) to save everyone or anyone else having to do so. Oh, how did I manage to get the boys to “audit” the fabric? (Neither has the patience for fabric shopping, I tell you from long experience, unless it’s for themselves and even then their attention span is, well, short.) Why, phone camera, of course. I might be technologically inept – I am; just ask YoungB about how I alway mess up trying to set up the TV unless he’s there to tell me how – but I have my moments.

Sure, there are plenty of bandannas available but Dr B wears his out with amazing rapidity so the idea of my making a couple for him is far from silly and, once I’ve tracked down a fabric he’s prepared to wear, shouldn’t actually take very long. A square of fabric with a rolled hem – he’s not after the fancy shaped sort you can buy. He has a couple of those and while they’re good, they don’t provide quite as much protection for his head as the cotton numbers that he already owns – should be a reasonably quick sewing projection, don’t you think? And then I can get back to my aprons and my knitting!

Sorry, either my computer is playing up or our Internet connection is but I’ve had a few crashes in the writing of this post so plan to send it as is without photos or links. Soz, as the kids these days would say. 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Cycling, Knitting, Sewing

 

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aprons

Karen has made a lovely apron and is talking of hosting an apronalong. What a fantastic idea. I shall certainly sign up for that.

I’m far from a novice when it comes to aprons. The first thing I ever made in dressmaking class was a pink, heart-shaped apron edged with fancy blue ricrac. It sounds awful but I suppose it was nicely made (my teacher would have seen to that even had I not had my mother to do so) and would have been useful to someone. I have no recollection of wearing it myself! I have made other aprons since, of the gardening and kitchen variety, for various family members and one for the kitchen at work. I’m not a great one for aprons, in the sense that I would probably not bother to make one for myself, but I certainly wear them because I understand their value as a means of protecting both clothing and person. I often encourage Dr B and YoungB to don an apron when they’re cooking in summer: it’s much better than having hot oil splatter over your bare chest!

You might wonder, after all that, why the idea of an apronalong has tickled my fancy. As with most things in sewing and life, there’s always something else to pique my interest in the way someone else has approached a certain problem, or the way they’ve combined colours to come up with something fresh and lovely. And, you know, it could be a good way to start the Christmas sewing.

At the time of Great Aunt’s death, I inherited not only her scrap bag but also three partly-made aprons. She was another who was not a great one for wearing aprons, perhaps because they’d been part of her work uniform for such a long time, and my own mother I don’t believe ever wore one. However, the story behind the aprons is rather nice. They’re cross stitched on gingham. Another friend, Auntie J, worked them all and sent them to Great Aunt for her to complete. It was, I believe, at a time when Great Aunt was struggling with depression about her job and a good many other things happening in her life and the lives of those around her.

Auntie J could well understand that. But her answer to help overcome the depression, as indeed Great Aunt’s answer in a different way, was to sew. Auntie J cross-stitched everything: cushion covers, teatowels, traycloths, tablecloths of all sizes and, of course, aprons. I know that Great Aunt appreciated the kind thoughts from Auntie J but either the depression was at that time too deep or it really was simply not Great Aunt’s kind of sewing, because the aprons languished, carefully folded with their instructions for completion, tucked away safely in the divan bed with other sewing bits and pieces, including a partly-completed dress which I also inherited (and more on that another time, perhaps).

The three part-finished aprons that came to me via this circuitous route are waist or half-aprons or pinnies (terminology will vary depending on where you are, I know) with little left to do: finish side hems, gather the apron, attach wasitband and ties and there I’ll have three aprons. I made an effort to finish one last year with Eldest Niece in mind, although I have to say I’ve never seen her in an apron; but Middle Aunt thought she might wear it if it were given to her and its origins explained. The particular one I’d picked out had horses embroidered on it, once Eldest Niece’s favourite animals. There is another with dogs, which turned out to be the one I ended up almost finishing because nowadays Eldest Niece has two dogs and, more prosaically, it matched thread already in my machine/on my bobbin. The third has a pattern of stars. Here’s the doggie one.

I ironed it carefully before I sewed anything, but it has been folded for nearly a year. Apologies for the wrinkles!

As is often the way with my sewing projects, it was not terrifically urgent so several others that were overtook it and I shuffled it to the back burner for a while. Karen’s idea of an apronalong has spurred me to thinking that, even if she does not host such a thing, I should really make the effort to finish at least one of those lovely aprons. I feel as if I’m letting down both Great Aunt and Auntie J although I know that both of them, very wise and compassionate women as they were, would understand life overtaking even my best intentions.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Musing, Sewing

 

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