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did I make it or not?

Firstly, happy new year. Personally, I hope 2014 is a better year than 2013 turned out to be but whatever it holds, I’ve no doubt at all that there’ll be more plans made and never fulfilled. I mean, for example, I’m already a year down with my plan to knit YoungB’s cabled jumper and I haven’t yet begun it! (That leaves me two years in hand, I tell myself. Bags of time, absolutely bags.)

Wrapping up with 2013 Sewlutions: if I put the Yalta top as a success and something I could or even would wear to work – and the answer to both of those is yes, since I would never be without at least a short-sleeve jacket in any paid employment, which would certainly hide a multitude of sins – then I came in as a completion. Since my original brief was something like that, perhaps I got there in time. (Excuse the poor picture, I was being lazy about the tripod; and I deliberately didn’t include my face since it’s presently suffering an horrific outbreak of cold sores.)

Wearable and respectable and a vast improvement on my old, faded tops. But is it acceptable to the Mistress?

Wearable and respectable and a vast improvement on my old, faded tops. But is it acceptable to the Mistress?

If, however, we take the view that my main purpose was to use that lovely piece of rayon to make a nice top? No, I failed quite dismally. I could have sat up late on New year’s Eve and done a terribly botched job simply to make the deadline (although, being among the earliest to greet the New Year, I’d have had hours in hand, that’s not actually an option when you know your day is already spoken for). But that’s part of the deal, too: I wanted to do a good job. For once I wanted to have all the seams finished nicely and the neckline tidy and the hems straight. In that case, the Yalta top doesn’t fit the bill either, since I made it in such a rush that there are bodgy bits of finishing. It’s perfectly wearable, just not brilliant.

Also – because on New Year’s Eve I was tired to the point where I couldn’t keep my eyes open even to read a book (rare, but it happens) I went to bed and was so soundly asleep that I didn’t hear Dr B and Eldest Aunt come home from the beachside fireworks display – I didn’t blog about my failure or read Karen’s post on the appointed day. I’ve since headed over to do that, sure she’d have pulled another rabbit out of the hat; and, you know, of course she had! But I had a feeling there’d be others who might also be in that grey area of not knowing quite whether to claim a success or a miserable failure and probably quite a few who didn’t manage to meet either the Sewlution or the deadline. That’s proved to be the case.

In a bigger picture way, I’m quite sure that my muddled output was a product of my muddled year. I did manage to knit a reasonable amount – 14 completed items, if my record on Ravelry is accurate, as well as two cardigans that are frogged or still WIPs, a care shawl that’s also still on the needles and the Noro Silk Garden scarf that’s growing slowly – but my sewing was less productive. I mended a lot of things, though I always think of that as rescuing them otherwise I probably wouldn’t do it! But let’s see, what did I make? A bandanna, quite a few lavender bags, several totes of varying descriptions, a little clutch I didn’t blog about but use all the time and three aprons as well as the galactic Yalta top. Not a large output, I think you’d have to agree. Perhaps this year I’ll manage to get that sewing room back to a better state of usefulness and improve my output.

So I remain uncertain as to the answer to my question but perhaps, if the Mistress is in a good mood, She might reckon I managed to meet the goal of making a top suitable for work. Otherwise I’m in for a terrible time. I hope you’re not also quaking in your boots!

 

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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in Knitting, Reading, Sewing

 

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prototype or wearable toile

Yalta top in a stiffer fabric than suits it with a bigger cowl than I wanted; the faults are mine!

Yalta top in a stiffer fabric than suits it with a bigger cowl than I wanted; the faults are mine!

I think the galactic fabric – really; it’s described as photoreal and, things cosmic being always hot topics in our house, it seemed to be good choice – turned into what ought to be considered a wearable toile. Therefore, since it won’t meet the stringent demands of the challenge I set for Sewlutions, I might as well carry on and make a few comments about it now.

Firstly, the fabric is quite strange, having an almost rubbery feel to it. I chose it because of the colour. I needed a knit fabric and would have been happy with a plainer one but there was nothing to be had that was at all appealing (and certainly nothing in my stash, which was the first place I looked). The slight rubberiness makes it surprisingly warm (not always a good thing in an Aussie summer) and it holds shape well. In fact, for the pattern I used, a softer fabric with a correspondingly softer drape might be a good thing. No matter. It’s a toile, however wearable (and of course I’ll wear it; I’m like that) and the whole idea of such a thing is to learn from what you have done so that you can improve when you do it again. Yes, I like the top enough to want to do a better job.

I’ve nutted out a lower profile way of having the gathered effect on this fabric – using good, old-fashioned gathering threads, which didn’t cause too much bulk – and I ended up hemming it for the sake of tidiness. I haven’t yet rescued the armscyes but may do so at some stage. It’s wearable and all right. Its many errors of construction mean it’s less than brilliant but the fault is mine, not the pattern’s. The pattern, the ladies’ Yalta top by Lena Merrin, is great. And when I make my next one – perhaps not immediately but fairly soon, I think – I’ll take a bit more time to do it properly. Whether I’ll use the required self-tape to obtain the gathered look I’m not too sure. I might go with clear elastic to reduce bulk. Or perhaps when I take a bit more time, finish things properly and use a less bulky fabric, there’ll be no problem.

Sometimes you throw caution to the wind and go with the flow, which is rather what I did on Saturday afternoon because time was pressing. I decided that, if I spent any more time trying to look up hints on the computer, I’d never get anything sewn. I’d looked at the tutorial on how to do the cowl which was not a lot of help to me because there’s insufficient contrast in colour for it to be easy to follow; but I think the idea is what I’d arrived at as the answer (only after a third attempt, which took me to a different solution, was the one I’d decided would have to do or we’d never be getting to the party at all): a pillowcase-style closure method.

Next time, I’ll be careful to cut the cowl to match whatever size I’ve decided on for the shoulders, rather than what I decided would fit for the bust, as I think perhaps I did this time. That should give me a smaller cowl, which was partly what attracted me to the Yalta; I do like the softness of a cowl and the slight variation of neckline that’s achieved with only a small alteration but am perhaps too small myself to carry a large cowl with much confidence these days. Plus, you know, cleavage-visibility problems are much likelier with a larger cowl. Acceptable at 17, perhaps, but 40 years later? Not so much.

And, although I can’t measure across my own back, I’m not so truly indolent that I hadn’t checked any measurements. I had measured my circumferences and checked against the chart Lena gives and I can see that there’s a significant mismatch for me and/or the pattern runs quite large. It’s voluminous on me, except at the hip (which is probably about right). Do I care? Not much. It’s a bit different, the fabric is fun and a pretty colour and, all in all, if every garment I made, toile or not, turned out as well, I’d be very happy. Yes, there are a few bumpy bits of sewing, and the fact that – of course – they occur where the black thread crosses the patches of pale fabric means they’re quite obvious, I don’t suppose many people really will notice, particularly if I’m wearing a jacket.

So if I could consider that a successful toile but probably not suitable for a place of employment or perhaps a really decent top, then I’m still well behind in my Sewlution sewing! How about you?

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Sewing, Uncategorized

 

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process not product

Great potential for placement problems but too spectacular to resist

Great potential for placement problems but too spectacular to resist

I’m dead terrified of upsetting the Mistress of the Jar. So I’m not going to talk about whether or not my finished top would be appropriate for my response to the challenge she set us. It might be. It might not be. I’m more blogging about getting there, not what “there” might be. So I firstly want to have a little whinge about PDF patterns! Yes, in the big scheme of things they’re fantastic. It’s fabulous that you can download them instantly and it’s truly wonderful that so many designers do make them available at little or even no cost. Those are big gains indeed.

All of those gains, however, can disappear in a fit of the grumbles when you spend two days crawling around on the floor trying to match up all the squares to glue one of them together so you can actually use it. After that, there’s the usual having to trace your pattern off that so that you can then pin it – or weight it; whichever method you use, there’s an added step –  to your fabric and then cut out the garment. That might normally take [me] a day; but if you’ve just spent two getting to that point, all of that additional, ordinary stuff seems like a very great deal when you’re working on a deadline. And, let’s be honest, who ever works to anything but a deadline? Some might be tighter than others but we’re always trying to do more than we can realistically fit into the hours we’ve allocated for the task. We might plan to be ahead of ourselves but life gets in the way. That’s just how life is!

For me, there are other deterrents. We don’t have a decent floor in the place (the carpet is old and bumpy and if we continue to store pushbikes in the hallway and use the lounge room as a substitute gym in the winter, I can’t see that changing), the lino in the kitchen is a bit the same and there’s certainly not enough space in the kitchen for it to be a possibility even were it not, you know, the kitchen) and certainly no table large enough for gluing together large expanses of paper. That’s definitely a factor in my lack of enthusiasm for PDF patterns.

I like to think you’re all a great deal better organised than I am, even though I know it’s not the case, and that you’d never be battling PDFs and cutting out and sewing up your new garment a few hours before the party at which you need to wear it (because, heck, if you don’t wear that, then what on earth will you wear?). I’ve seen evidence around the blogosphere that there are others who are also of the school that thinks hems on knits are optional at a pinch; and therefore, knowing I’m in good company, I’m about to reel off a few of my heinous actions.

So what if I ended up using a shoelace as a tie because I didn’t have time to make a cord? Under a jacket, the shoelace wasn’t visible. So what if the garment wasn’t hemmed? I think most would agree that’s sometimes a deliberate choice for a very stable knit fabric. I might hem it eventually, along with sorting out a better way of achieving the desired gathers because I found the effect of the shoelace quite bulky and don’t imagine that a self-fabric cord would be any less so. The not-so-good fit across the back? It’s sleeveless but I’d always intended to wear it under a jacket. Given time, I might put a Chanel trim on the armscyes to tidy things up and bring in the profile to a better fit. Then again, I might not. The drape on the cowl? Far too deep to be a good look, but I take the responsibility for that because it relates to my absolute indolence with regard to measuring myself properly.

I know I’m a funny shape – I’ve had a lot of years to accept that! – and that my proportions make adjustments tricky. Still, I could have been more careful with starting out at about a size 12 across the shoulders on both back and front and then deciding how on earth I was going to ensure that the rest of the garment was big enough for the rest of me. You know how I was in a hurry? Yeah, well, that’s it, you know. I was in a hurry, so I did the best I could in what little time I had. I certainly graded from a smaller size at the shoulder to a bigger size at the bottom; it just might not been the right size in either spot. Oops.

Despite all the dramas and problems, the finished garment looked okay under the jacket. The colour is pretty and was appropriate for the evening (chosen carefully to reflect one of the favourite colours of the birthday girl) and if my top was a mess under the jacket, then only I knew. Another guest, someone who wouldn’t care about any of those shortcomings even if she’d known about them, said how nice it looked and particularly loved the cowl. 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2013 in Sewing

 

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the unemployment-go-round and just in case

Some days I sit and trawl the job sites – between waiting for emails to tell me if I have any incoming assignments for the transcription I do from home; which pays little but sometimes takes an inordinate amount of time! – and wonder why I’m bothering. They might not say it in so many words because the legislation forbids it, but many are very obviously looking for some young, silly female, preferably blonde with big hooters, who’s too young and silly to complain about the potentially sexist attitudes already on display. Other days I stumble across things for which I’m well qualified and I send off another application (electronically, in the majority of cases). Most of them disappear into the aether and I have no way of knowing if they ever reach their target audience. Very rarely you get an automatic response, which is at least a bit heartening.

Today I happened upon another in the latter category (as well as a couple in the first) and went through the same routine. This one, as it turned out, sent back an automatic response. So I wondered if this time it might be sufficiently a possibility that I should really make myself a blouse for work? Just in case? You know, I did make the reSewlution at Karen’s behest that I was going to do just that. I later put my hand up to ask if I could change it to using that lovely rayon to make a decent blouse, because with no job to go to, what incentive was there to make anything to wear to it? But a decent blouse is always useful and I don’t have many.

Allowing for the very dim lighting, you'll see there's a distinct vertical (or horizontal) look about this, so I'll need to be careful with placement.

Allowing for the very dim lighting, you’ll see there’s a distinct vertical (or horizontal) look about this, so I’ll need to be careful with placement.

In between helping Dr B with some motorbike tinkering and attending to today’s laundry and doing all that boring domestica, I tracked down the fabric and the pattern I intend to use and put it somewhere near the top of my work pile. I’ve patched YoungB’s jeans and darned them (all by hand, if you don’t mind; the skinny legs meant I couldn’t get the hole under my presser foot, even with the tubular bed freed up) so that he has a spare pair to take with him when he’s interstate rowing next week, and I’ve even done a spot of repair work on the zipper tab of a motorcycle boot for him. Do you reckon it’s my turn now? Should I do myself a favour and make a new blouse? It would be useful and it would cheer me enormously to succeed at something!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Motorcycling, Musing, Rowing, Sewing

 

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party pooper

The last time Karen hosted a Pyjama Party Sewalong, I finished mine in time but was defeated by technology when it came to showcasing photos of same. This year? I was going so well! All cameras charged and functioning, computers working OK most of the time. I’d bought the fabric, laundered it and even ironed it (yes, that’s quite possibly what caused any recent seismic disturbances in this part of the world). I had it laid out on my sewing table with the pattern and everything, all ready to cut out. It’s a pattern I’ve used on numerous previous occasions, so I knew the actual sewing wouldn’t take long at all. But then? Then we had unexpected visitors from interstate – a delightful couple of busy days, but although some knitting might have happened when I wasn’t driving, I certainly wasn’t able to do any sewing – and that was that. So, really, I think that had better be that. No more parties for me. I obviously can’t be relied on to do anything in time!

That’s not to say that, in between feeling very glum about the whole employment scene and not wanting to waste blog time moaning about same, I haven’t been busy. I’ve finally finished Youngest Uncle’s fingered mitts/fingerless gloves (at this time of year, good, natural light for sewing can be in short supply but the need for the finished article quite pressing, especially now that Youngest Uncle is home from a tropical holiday). I’ve knitted a beanie for myself. And I really am about 99% done with Middle Niece’s Easy Lace Cowl.

I ended up making Youngest Uncle’s fingerless gloves/fingered mitts using a knit-it-flat-then-sew-it-up pattern from the Patons Winter Warmers Book 483. It’s pattern 37, Knitted Family Gloves or Mitts. I used Cleckheaton Country Tartan yarn, which knits up beautifully, and made the Man’s size. I’m happy with the results and I’m sure Youngest Uncle will be too (I’ll be delivering them tomorrow).

Test-driven by Dr B, whose hands are very large. They'll certainly fit Youngest Uncle.

Test-driven by Dr B, whose hands are very large. They’ll certainly fit Youngest Uncle.

And, as I said, I knitted a beanie for myself. Strictly speaking, when I said the colours of that balaclava weren’t my colours, I was wrong. The colours are fine but those particular shades are perhaps not quite dark enough for me. On the other hand, although the beanie sports a similar colour palette, the shades are much darker; in fact, a little too dark for me. But let me remind you of YoungB’s witty wisdom that any colour is your colour when you’re cold. I’ve been wearing this beanie and loving how warm it is.

Cheerful, self-striping yarn again but this time a slightly flatter crown than my previous beanie

Cheerful, self-striping yarn again but this time a slightly flatter crown than my previous beanie

You won’t be surprised to hear that this pattern also comes from the Patons Winter Warmers Book 483. This time I used pattern 15, Knitted Cap and Scarf. I made the Lady’s size, used Bendigo Woollen Mills’ Murano and didn’t bother with the striping (given that the yarn provided that anyway). Once again, I loved the yarn but was disappointed that there was a knot. And this time, I didn’t see the knot coming, so ended up having to tink half a row. Oh, well, no biggie. At least I wasn’t knitting anything complex.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I hope you’ve been keeping busy, too?

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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jarring thoughts

Turns out it's not about the wearability for work but using this fabric

Turns out it’s not about the wearability or suitability for work but about finally using this lovely fabric (and I do need a decent, pretty blouse for work)

I’ve been thinking about my reSewlution “to make a new blouse for me that’s suitable to wear to work”. That doesn’t sound terribly difficult. In fact, I made four tops last year that might not have been intended for work but have been worn to work. So perhaps what I really meant was that I want to use that lovely piece of blue rayon with the flowers on it to make a top for work and do a really good job of it, because the others were all problematic in one way or another and none of them – none! – is as well finished as it should be.

I haven’t let that stop me from using them but I’m always aware that the hem on one isn’t entirely straight, the neckband on another is dodgy as all get out, the sleeves on a third are a very long way from perfect, and the other one just doesn’t fit as well as it should because I used a fabric with too little stretch. But I have no shame: I wear them anyway. From the outside, they don’t look too bad (and, let’s face it, not too many people are going to be inspecting the inside). One of them has a brilliant neckline, another looks (and is) light and summery, one is, as it turns out, understated and highly suitable for work and the one I made to wear to a wedding, while done in the biggest hurry of all, still looks quite presentable despite the several shortcomings – they’re more like longcomings, really! – in fit and finish. (Yes, I have worn it to work, separate from its accompanying skirt, on a couple of occasions where I was attending a function after work.)

I mean, just how dodgy is that neckline? Don't you wonder how I can bear to wear it in public!

I mean, just how dodgy is that neckline? Don’t you wonder how I can bear to wear it in public!

Having thus berated myself for being sloppy, I should point out that three of those tops are made from knit fabric, part of whose charm (if you didn’t know) is that, actually, you don’t NEED to finish off seams the way you would with a woven fabric. They won’t fray or unravel if you just leave them raw and sometimes you do leave them raw for effect. All the same, I’m sure a spot more overlocking wouldn’t have gone astray on any of them. That’s particularly true for the one that’s not a knit so much as a stretch satin and, really, it does fray.

My intention for that piece of blue-with-flowers fabric – recently, anyway; it’s been in my stash for a very long time – had been to use it to make another of the easy kimono-style T-shirts but there’s another top in my wardrobe which I actually prefer for a variety of reasons. It has reached a point of being beyond respectability (it’s nearly as old as YoungB and I wear it a lot). I might use it to trace a pattern then try really, really hard not to mess up when I make that top for work, the pretty one that I’ve been promising myself for years!

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Sewing

 

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Pattern Pyramid

#* THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*#
AMIE, of LET’S BE AMIE, was the lucky blogger

Right, then, let’s get this going, shall we? Thanks to Karen in the first place (and Catherine before her, of course) and Show and Tell Meg more directly, I received a packet of lovelies (wonderfully clear photos and details over at Show and Tell; I suggest you check them there) by mail shortly before the end of last year. Also included were a couple of lovely notions; the zipper really caught my eye because it’s blue and would match one of my stash fabrics. Aha!

How lucky am I to get a beautiful blue zip? Plus, that's the pattern I decided to keep

How lucky am I to get a beautiful blue zip? Plus, that’s the pattern I decided to keep

With one thing and another, it has taken me a while to get around to doing much about the Pyramid. Although I’d originally hankered for a dress pattern, the McCalls 2546, sober assessment of the collection leaves me thinking that, really, a better option for me is the muumuu! It could be made to fit; and if I were to use a knit fabric, I could get away without zips (not my biggest sewing nightmare but not my favourite thing, either – although I have plans for that lovely blue baby). Given our present Rather Warm weather, a quick muumuu might be a very good idea: looser, and therefore cooler, than a maxi dress but still cheerful and fun.

I’m adding in these two Weigel’s patterns into the Pyramid; they’re an old Aussie brand.

Weigel's pattern 1897

Weigel’s pattern 1897

1897 is a pattern for pyjamas in two styles to fit a 12 year old (or 30″ bust).

Weigel's pattern 1524

Weigel’s pattern 1524

1524 is a pattern for an easy-to-make housecoat, size small (or 32 – 34″ bust)

Anyway, on with the business – I mean fun – side of things!

To Enter The Giveaway: 

  1. Leave a comment on this blog post saying which pattern you would keep if you win! [If you’re like me, you might find you’ll be changing your mind about that.] Anyone anywhere can enter the giveaway but you must have an active blog.
  2. The winner must agree to pick 1 pattern for him/herself then host a giveaway; and, obviously, be OK with sending the rest off to any corner of the world. This started off in England and has already made it to almost every continent [hello, anyone out there in Antarctica?].
  3. You must have a blog of your own to host the giveaway of the extra patterns.
  4. If you are a winner, please consider making a donation to The Brooke, a charity dear to the heart of Catherine who generously provided these patterns.
  5. When you make your item, be sure to post about it so we can all drool over it 🙂

This giveaway will close at on Monday, 28 January 2013 at 11:59pm South Australian time – that is, Central Daylight Savings [or Adelaide] Time. That should be plenty of time, I hope, for you to spread the word among the blogging community. Be sure you enter before then to make sure you’re eligible.  And, if you are a day behind that time and you want to participate in this giveaway, please also BE SURE TO CHECK THE TIME DIFFERENCE CAREFULLY. I wouldn’t like anyone to miss out!

Only one entry per commenter, so additional comments won’t earn extra chances (and if you want to comment but not participate, you need only say so). I will also make sure to add in a surprise or two for the winner 🙂 Please spread the word on this one: tell your friends! We want as many people as possible to get involved in this wonderful opportunity 🙂 And remember, the winner gets one of those fabulous Pattern Pyramid tags to use in their make. Now, if you needed more incentive to participate, I can’t think what it would be. Good luck!

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Sewing

 

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