Tag Archives: Apronalong

what you do when things go wrong

Summer suddenly reverted to winter a week or so ago and I had no decent tops I could wear to a family function. The skirt fabric that wasn’t quite large enough for the pattern I wanted to use started to look like a good option for the unexpected sartorial lacuna, so I nutted out how to make something appropriate using Portia’s simple top in a long-sleeved, layered-looking version, augmenting the patterned fabric with some plain black knit fabric that had been in my stash for a very long time (it featured in one of Boy’s pyjama tops, 10-or-so years ago).

I said life had been a bit nuts and that was all part of the drama. I was trying to talk to people while trying to sew (not a good thing to do). I was hurrying (also not a good thing to do). I was away from the house for hours at a stretch at times I’d planned to be at home sewing (at least I was able to take my knitting with me; the White Caps Cowl is coming along very nicely, thank you). Everything that could have gone wrong probably did. I broke my new twin needle, luckily after doing a very good job of topstitching around the neck (I was extremely pleased with how well that turned out but didn’t seem able to take a good photo of it).

Of course I only had one twin needle suitable for stretch fabrics, so that little mishap necessitated reverting to first principles for all the rest of the topstitching – that is, sew one line, align presser foot with previous stitching and off you go on the second line of topstitching – but hardly surprisingly that took at least twice as long as one effort with the twin needle. I couldn’t get the sleeves to work, so ended up simply hemming them and calling them done. They looked like this:

Nothing wrong with straight edges but they do so get in the way (in my case, in the curry)

Eventually I had an opportunity to sit and sew without interruption and tried to improve the sleeves. After many more nightmares, I ended up with a simple elastic cuff (I was going out to an evening event and needed to have a closed cuff to prevent chill air going up my sleeves), which looked a bit like this:

Functional but deserving of the, “Oh, dear,” reaction one family member bestowed on them

Today, after having battled quite a bit more, I ended up with something that is far from perfect. But it looks acceptable and probably even presentable and there comes a point where you have to say, “Enough,” and mean it. The top now looks something like this:

It’s warn and at least as well made as anything I could have bought.

The fabric on the left is a second bandanna I’m making for Dr B. His needing a new one quite desperately also played a part in delaying my finishing the sleeves for my top; but, as I say, it had elastic to keep the chill out (and worn under a jacket, who was any the wiser?) so the bandanna was a clear priority. It looks very nice – sorry, no photo; it’s in use! – and the size has been voted as precisely what was needed. As I say, I’m pinning another and will get onto the orange number within a week or so, I hope. This fabric was decreed to be something all right to use for a test but probably not “for real”: it’s a mustardy yellow with leopard spots and roses on it. Doesn’t it sound ghastly? It’s actually not and, you know, once it’s under the cycle helmet and tied so that there’s a tail hanging down to cover Dr B’s neck, you can hardly see the design on the fabric anyway.

I’ve had to give up on the Apronalong, though. I couldn’t quite fit that with all the other things going on. I’ll make an apron, probably even two, but much closer to Christmas. They, at least, shouldn’t give me any grief in terms of sleeves, should they?



Posted by on October 28, 2012 in Cycling, Knitting, Sewing


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As part of preparing for the Apronalong, I stitched across the ends of my ticking prior to laundering it because it frays something awful. It’s also a considerably paler blue than the vintage fabric and doesn’t go with it as well as darker ticking would have done, so I’ve hatched a cunning plan to address that differential; of which, more later. While I had the sewing machine stoked up, I decided that, although it’s obviously not prone to fraying much at all, I’d also stitch across the end of the vintage fabric. Just to entertain myself, I measured how much of it there is: 12 yards. That’s quite a lot of fabric! And you might ask why I have so much in my stash?

Great Aunt bought the fabric to make her uniforms when she started as a student nurse many, many years ago indeed. Before she’d even cut the fabric, the hospital changed the check on its uniforms (going to a larger, slightly lighter blue). Great Aunt was left with, well, enough fabric to make all her uniforms and, well, not a lot else for which it was really suitable. But, being the thrifty woman she was, she hung onto it. She gave it to me some years before she died. I’d planned to make shirts for Boy (when he was quite young) but hadn’t done so, hence the fabric has languished in my stash for a long time, too. I’ve just given it a shake and, well, yes, there’s a lot of it!

12 yards is a lot of fabric! (Sorry for the slightly soft focus. I used my phone because it was handy)

Patterns for aprons? I plan to use the same one I use for all the aprons I make. It’s from an old Woman’s Day handcraft book and what it provides is a basic template, much like this one of Anne‘s or this one from The Purl Bee (which Karen has also suggested). What you do with it really is entirely up to you. What I intend to do this time is make reversible aprons: one side vintage fabric, the other side ticking. This will mean wrapping my head around rather more arithmetic than I’m comfortable with, but YoungB has a calculator and I’m sure he’d love to patronise me by using it to work things out for me! No, seriously, it’s not going to be that difficult.

I will, however, need to think more than usual about how I make the aprons because construction is not going to be as simple as my usual method calls for. I’ll have to plan hems (on thermal-backed curtain fabric, hems are unnecessary) and when and where and precisely how I’ll attach straps or loops and so on. And if I decide to use D-rings, which side will I put them on? (That’s not a deal-breaker, since it’s going to be the “wrong” side at some point, whichever side I choose.) Then there’s the question of pockets. Both sides? One side only? Stripes the same way? Stripes a different way? Oh, the choices. I’m all but paralysed by them!

Hope you’re having a good weekend and that you get lots of sewing done. (I’m now making nice progress with the White Caps Cowl, because every time I walk past it, I pick it up and do a few more stitches. That’s not to say I’ll finish it soon, but it’s progressing.)


Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Sewing


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too tired

There is sometimes a cruel twist in being both recorder and typist. Sitting through a hearing once is usually enough. Having to sit through it again several times (there’s no such thing as being able to type straight through with the majority of work we do, so you’re constantly going over and over bits to make sure you’ve heard it properly) is just malicious, I tell you, malicious. That’s been my very recent experience and I decided to finish work 10 minutes early because I couldn’t do another minute of the stuff without wanting to scream!

On a nicer note but almost as frustrating, I was trying to find a circular knitting needle that was somewhere between 40 cm and 60 cm. The shorter is the recommended size for the White Caps Cowl, but I’m finding it altogether too frustrating to work on. The longer is more than the recommended length but I suspect I may end up using it to get my work established, whether or not it’s the right size. It’s just not possible to cast on and straighten out stitches on the 40 cm circular, I’m distressed to say; not for me, anyway. So I’ve had to resort to my mother’s trick of doing the first few rows back and forward to get some stability going. Then I’ll try to join it and work in the round.

If you’re a knitter, you might want to tell me why I’m wrong to do it that way and I’ll listen politely but your arguments won’t sway me from my path. If it was good enough for my mother – a knitter in the days when everyone knitted their own socks and whose cunning tip might therefore be seen as born of long experience – then I see no reason at all why I shouldn’t make life a little easier for myself by following her example.

And it’s a long weekend here. I plan to sew and knit as much as I can. I have Apronalong fabric to sort out and patterns to tidy before I get cracking on that project. Still, the forecast is for a very wintry lot of weather indeed, so staying indoors sounds like a perfect plan. If you’re having a long weekend too, and even if you’re only having an ordinary one, I hope you’re able to get lots of sewing and knitting done.


Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Knitting, Sewing


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I am never organised, or so rarely that it’s practically never. Why, then, was I organised enough to purchase all those metres of sheeting for YoungB’s Halloween Nazgul cloak? I ask only because, the other night when I suggested we’d soon need to measure him up for it so that I could get on with the sewing, he told me he no longer needed it. Oh-kay. The only thing I see as a positive so far is that I hadn’t purchased the stiff card to make the mask!

The black sheeting? Yes, I can see that there would be lots of uses for that. It would be good for the standard LBD. Only trouble with that is that black – despite how much of it there is in my wardrobe – is not a good colour on me. And to have one of those LBDs suggests a use for such a thing. I might have once dredged up a few occasions of need but nowadays? Not even for choir purposes (which, I should perhaps point out, has been one of the main reasons for my multitudinous black-and-white sartorial colour schemes).

Right, then. Let’s talk apron fabrics. I like the look of ticking (lots of images here) and it’s certainly versatile. It’s also fairly soft. My preference for an apron is something with a little more presence, so a crisper cotton (or, my actual favourite apron fabric, thermal-backed curtaining) would be a better option. Enter my cunning plan. I’d decided to use ticking for the aprons and do a trim using some very old blue-and-white-checked cotton. I know it’s old fabric because it predates me by a good many years. There are yards of it (yes, there are, we hadn’t gone metric back then; and it’s a yard wide). It’s nicely stiff, which is probably what you would expect of something originally intended for a nurse’s uniform. It would make excellent aprons. Then I could use the ticking for the trims. What do you think?

Either way, I’m too tired and sneezy (OMG, the hay fever!) to ponder the problem now. I’m about to put out the rubbish bins then I’m going to bed.

Any suggestions on a good way to use three metres of 240 cm sheeting?!


Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Sewing


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gambling or lucky dip?

Dr B does a lot of buying on eB*y. He’s one of those annoying snipers, I think. But that’s OK. I occasionally enter giveaways on blogs. What I do is seen as perilously close to gambling, according to him. Personally I think it’s more of a lucky dip. In any case, whichever it is, I was lucky enough to be the recipient of some largesse from Emily at Calico Stretch.

The arrival of the parcel was cause for hilarity. Last year, prior to PBP, Dr B and our postie were practically on first name terms because there seemed to be almost daily delivery of parcel or parcels of cycling gear from various online vendors. The pace has slowed some this year though it’s mostly the case that any parcels coming to our house are almost certainly not mine, even when I’m expecting something (for example, there was an ongoing drama with an anticipated parcel from the States that caused me great grief and afforded Dr B and YoungB much amusement while their several parcels turned up and mine didn’t).

Thursday was a cool morning here and nobody wanted to get out of bed, so Dr B was reading news online and I was pretending I was still asleep. YoungB had free lessons first thing and didn’t need to be out of bed at the usual hour, so he was genuinely still asleep. When there was a knock at the door, Dr B did the honours. He said the parcel was for me. I was trying to get out of bed – you know, half-heartedly struggling into my dressing gown and fumbling about for slippers – so I asked him if it was from New Zealand (which is where Emily lives). He brought the parcel to me after I’d repeated my question several times. He held it out and asked how could he tell if it as from New Zealand?

The bag in which it was packed was similar to these in the sense of having that same distinctive design and the white print on black background might also have given the game away. The postmark said New Zealand. The bag had New Zealand Post printed on it. The return address said New Zealand. The customs declaration asked for a value in NZ$. I have no idea how it could have been made easier for Dr B to figure out country of origin, but it seemed beyond him. Fine. He was probably just cross because it wasn’t for him!

I was running late by then, of course, so I intended to be good and not open the parcel before I rushed out the door. But I couldn’t resist!

Much better than gambling! Aren’t I lucky?

Not only had Emily sent me the very lovely fabric, she’d included a Stitch magazine and some felt flowers and a length of lovely, colourful braid. I took the magazine on the bus with me and very much enjoyed reading it. My mind was only half on my work all day, I’m sure. I was mentally imagining what I might do with the fabric. It’s a lovely, stable double knit with not a lot of stretch (around 20% as far as I’m able to figure it out; I haven’t tracked down the pattern from my stash that has a stretch meter on it but I know I have one). I am very happy to say that the colour is quite becoming on me (I love green but not all greens love me).

At a pinch, you could use the fabric with the stretch going up and down and probably not have too many lengthening dramas. (That’s a trick I learnt from my instructor back in 1994 when I did a stretch-sewing course, so it’s not unheard of or wicked, merely a little unusual.) That could mean a skirt with vertical stripes would be nice. I like skirts. I don’t wear them often because they create other problems, such as needing to wear something under them to keep warm and getting in the way when you’re crawling around under desks chasing leads and things of that nature. None of those problems is insuperable and if you’re willing, you can do anything.

Or I could perhaps make a longish jacket. I have fabrics that would be suitable for lining. Our weather is finally beginning to warm up (though not a lot, it has to be said!) but I still need a jacket that will see me through till the truly hot weather arrives. I don’t want to rush into making something simply to use the fabric. I’d rather give it more thought and use it wisely and to best effect. Dr B thinks a jacket might be the answer. I’ll let you know what I decide on.

In the meantime, I’ve aprons to be prepping! If you’re sewing along with Karen, have you chosen your fabric yet?


Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Cycling, Sewing


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why I haven’t or why, I haven’t

I mentioned in an earlier post (6 June 2012) that I hadn’t yet had an article published in Checkpoint; and why, I still haven’t, even though I couldn’t say for sure why I still haven’t. (Actually, there have been plenty of real cycling articles in it lately, a lot of big ride reports. And a very interesting article about an Audax Wife who photographs cemeteries, which helps to contribute to the photographic database that helps people trying to track down family histories and build family trees. There’s a purpose for everything and a job for everyone, it seems, even if they’re not cyclists.)

I work at it a lot, though, at least in my mind. It’s entitled, What I did while you lot were out cycling hundreds of kilometres in the wind and rain/scorching heat (whichever is appropriate; I deliberately leave some details vague). Each year, when the Fleche Oppy 24-hour team ride comes around, I find myself mentally writing a very long article indeed, because it always coincides with a rowing regatta, sometimes an important one. And if it’s the full 360 kilometres and the team that Dr B is riding with will camp overnight at our house? Yes, there are considerations there, there are indeed.

One year, while they were toiling up steep hills, I was driving Boy to an away regatta, braving the morning fog and what have you to ensure his presence where he was needed at the required hour. Then while they were toiling up more hills, I was doing a food dash to the local bakery to buy lots of food for hungry rowers (that prodigious appetite again). While they were descending hills, I was too, driving my sleepy Boy home from a day of rowing where he had seemed constantly to just miss out on victory but, despite that, had had a great day because he’d rowed hard and well. He sleepily commented that Australia is a big country because there are European countries we could have crossed several times in our day’s driving. He and his various crews had worked hard while Dr B and his team had worked hard.

Me? Well, you know, I sat about on the bank and watched and cheered and took lots of photos and found this, that and the next thing when asked (including that food I mentioned), and did all the driving (covering not quite as many kilometres in the car as Dr B on his bike) because that’s what I do.

In that particular year, the away regatta meant then having to set up bedding for overnight cyclists when Boy and I got home. We had to find mattresses and I had to locate bedlinen and it was all just a horrible rush and I was more than usually flustered when the team turned up. The previous year, I’d had an at-home regatta that gave me ample time to do the running about and find mattresses and bedlinen as well as prepare food.

The most recent Fleche Oppy, coming after Dr B’s accident, turned out to be a shorter one, a Petit Oppy. He took himself to the start while Boy and I went to rowing. It was the school state championships regatta and our school was the host club, which meant that for once someone else took photos for the school but only because I was doing other things: handing out bow numbers all morning and scrutineering most of the afternoon. Volunteering for the latter was a cunning ploy because it meant I was able to watch Boy’s Schoolboy VIII crew in its first ever race. So, yeah, I just had a good time while the boys were knocking themselves out in their respective sports, really.

Dr B came home for the night but we didn’t have to accommodate anyone else, so at least I wasn’t running about trying to find bedding and the like. I took him to the next morning’s 6 o’clock start then came home and just, you know, bummed about a bit laundering and doing all that sort of nonessential rubbish, before picking him up from the finish point at about 8.00. Sometimes I’m rushing about doing stuff and can’t rake up the energy to write, although I almost always have a notebook with me.

And today? Today I’ve been providing Audax input in a quite different manner. I’ve been trying to think up clever names for a 1000 Km ride that Dr B is organising for next year. It’s based on a shorter one he already convenes but he didn’t want the names to be so similar that folk would think it was just the same ride stretched out a bit. The Copper Coast Wanderer offers several distances up to 600 Km. The 1000 is that and nothing else. You can see why the extra distance required new nomenclature.

The ride takes in most of South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, which is shaped somewhat like a leg; hence my immediate suggestion of the Shake a Leg 1000. I’d also proffered several other catchy suggestions, alluding to the maritime and agricultural history of the area, but this morning YoungB came up with a couple of delightfully ironic suggestions that had us in stitches and clearly beat my wit to a pulp. What do you think, for instance, of the Life’s a Breeze 1000? Dr B is conducting a poll among the Audaxians. And, no, I don’t suppose I’ll be writing about it though I’ll take my notebook with me when I’m doing support work, I’m sure!


More importantly than any of that – really – Karen has launched her Apronalong . Go get your button now. I’ve got mine! Although, unfortunately, my button doesn’t seem to be working, I’m sure you’ll be able to make yours work. And I’ll keep trying with mine.

Also, in case you were wondering, YoungB was still Boy at those rowing regattas. I haven’t really mixed it up!

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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Cycling, Musing, Rowing


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