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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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when the answer to “Why?” is, “Because.”

So why haven’t I sewn that new top I desperately need? Because I’ve been sewing something needed even more desperately by someone else, namely a long-sleeved T-shirt for Nonno. It’s too complicated to explain why he needed it so urgently, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate that, as we’re coming into summer here, thermal undies are more than a touch difficult to track down in the shops; Nonno needing something to keep him warm presented a dilemma that shopping couldn’t truly resolve. This is not thermal but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s long-sleeved and it’s made from a cosy knit fabric.

Although not sewn according to instructions, the neckband is tidy enough

Why is it blue? Because that was the colour of the fabric I already had in my stash. Why is the fabric so wrinkled? Because it had been laundered and folded less carefully than it should have been and then carted around the countryside a few times. Why didn’t I wash it again to get rid of the wrinkles? Because that would have required more time than I had available to me. Why didn’t I pop it through the tumble dryer for a while? Because that probably would have shrunk it. As a last resort, why didn’t I iron it? Ah, well, as a matter of fact I did iron it, so there’s one question I can’t answer with a because. However, I can tell you that because I ironed it, it’s not nearly as wrinkled as it might have been (or, indeed, was prior to being ironed)!

I didn’t have a pattern for a long-sleeved T-shirt with raglan sleeves, so I had to nut out what additional taper might give me the required result (loose sleeve, no cuffs) using a basic short-sleeved T-shirt pattern (one I’d used to make a sports day top for YoungB some years ago). I sort of followed the construction instructions on the pattern and I sort of didn’t. I sewed in the sleeves, which the pattern called for. Then it wanted me to put the neckband on, but I really like to do that last.

I sewed all the seams and overlocked them as well. Why? Because I wanted to give them extra strength (this will be subject to rougher laundering than it would be if I were doing it at home). Then I did the hems and ran into difficulties with the white thread I was using for the topstitching. Why did I use white thread? Because I didn’t have any blue and I suspect I’ve never had any. I also suspect that I had trouble with this thread when I first bought it (it’s a Coats Drima Polyester thread, so certainly not the cheap rubbish I often use; and it’s not listed on their page which might mean it’s discontinued). I seem to recall it misbehaving with my twin needle even when it was new though I struggled on and topstitched the garment I was making (accompanied by significant amounts of muttering and unladylike language, I don’t doubt).

Then lastly I applied the neckband and I didn’t align its seam with the left shoulder seam of the T-shirt as instructed. Rather than matching notches, I quartered both band and neckline and matched up that way. It’s a funny thing, I suppose, but I like my neckband seams centred at the back and much prefer the way they look. It might simply be that, because that’s how I learnt to do it when I first started sewing with knit fabrics, that’s what has become second nature for me. Do you have a preference for either method, or do you mix and match according to what you’re making?

In any case, I overlocked the band – it wasn’t ribbing, just the stretch fabric – then sewed it. I’m sure some folk would be able to do it all in one smooth operation but I’m not that clever with my overlocker. I’ve done it once or twice, but I then sometimes have trouble with the topstitching. If I do it this way, I don’t tear my hair out battling with the bulk (you can’t trim away all of it) and trying to negotiate tricky curves. Anyway, I think the end result is neat enough.

This morning it was all ready and waiting for Dr B to take to Nonno but it’s still here. Why? Because Dr B has been running around all day doing a thousand other things. So why did I break my neck rushing to get it finished? Because that’s just how I like to do things, I think! Why? Why, because!

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Sewing

 

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