Monthly Archives: January 2013

Project Pairing #3

It is a generally acknowedged fact that I am a bit of an introvert. It’s not that I haven’t been interested in the recent trend for animal print clothing – I even tried on a top in New Look although it was inevitably too short. No, the point is that when confronted with a thoroughly extrovert trend, introverts like me will need to bring it down a notch or two in order to feel comfortable.

I’ve been casually on the lookout recently for a classy animal print, or at the very least an interesting one. So when Karen mentioned in November that she’d bought some leopard-print cord on a visit to Birmingham, my ears pricked up somewhat. It’s the perfect compromise. Out there print – traditional, comfortable fabric. The ante was upped when it transpired that Scruffy Badger had bought the same fabric and had made a thoroughly classy mini-skirt. Grey tones, needlecord, from Birmingham?

Well I don’t really need to tell you the rest, do I?

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This seamed, A-line skirt that I’ve had on my radar ever since it came out should consider itself project paired.

(Now I just need to do some actual sewing one of these days. M5661 is coming along, albeit slowly.)

Project Pairing #2

Burda magazines cost £4.75 per issue. This is pretty awesome value given that each magazine contains about 20 patterns, but in order to try and keep a) my magazine stash and b) my sewing expenditure slightly under control, I have a rule that I only buy an issue if there are at least two patterns in there that I can see myself sewing.

Sometimes, though, I will justify the purchase on a single must-have pattern. That’s what happened with November’s issue when I needed the vintage reprint dress, and I think that’s what’s going to happen with February’s issue.

Actually, the shirt dress 118 looks like a great pattern too, although I wouldn’t make it in bouclé as they do in the magazine:

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But t-shirt 126, with the option of longer sleeves or extending it into a dress with patterns 127 and 128 respectively? Hells yes!

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A basic t-shirt with feminine interest and a great neckline? Oh be still, my beating heart.

The raglan sleeves also look really comfortable, which is why I’m pairing this pattern up with the dark blue (I hestitate to call it navy) supplex that I bought from eBay before Christmas, with the intention of sewing up some sportswear. I am notoriously unsporty in most respects, but I do go regularly to Pilates and the whole stretching-out-in-borderline-too-short-clothing thing does not do my body-comfort a whole lot of good.

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So if the fabric seems good to work with then I may well be ordering some more, the next stop being leggings.

WIP: My First (Knitted) Armscye Seam

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It’s a bit of a lumpy one, especially around the top of the sleeve cap. Hopefully it’ll look a bit better with steaming and blocking. I did have a more detailed shot which Jonathan took for me, but I, um, deleted it off the memory card by mistake.

I’ve been doing whipstitch. Mattress stitch is clearly the recommended technique for unobtrusive seaming, but seems to assume that you’re joining two vertical pieces together (which clearly I am not).

Do the more experienced knitters out there have any advice?

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Between writing and publishing this post, I did a bit of searching on Ravelry, which lead me to this Knitty article: mattress stitch for sleeves. So I think I’m going to be unpicking, blocking the whole thing, and trying again.

(I’m a little terrified of the blocking too, by the way. My gauge swatch suggests that all horizontal measurements will grow by an eighth – hence the rather close fit at present. But what if it doesn’t work out and all my hard fitting work is ruined?)

It’s frustrating because I want to wear it NOW. The snow is falling thick and fast outside and I desperately need more work appropriate jumpers. But I know that I will wear the result a lot more if I actually get it right. Patience, girl, patience.

In The Jar

Resolutions are fantastic things when you make them in January, but it often doesn’t take long for them to get forgotten. I daresay that’s one of the reasons that Karen’s re-sewlutions jar, with the promise of follow-up on readers’ sewing resolutions, turned out to be such a popular idea (237 comments at the time of writing!) – as I’ve been discovering with my accountancy study, there’s nothing like a bit of accountability to get things moving.

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I think that the other key to any sort of target is being realistic. The title of this blog reflects the fact that I do not have an amazingly high sewing output. I don’t sew fast, and I don’t dedicate every spare minute of my time to the hobby. Even if I wanted to, the reality of having Depression is that I simply can’t concentrate for that long at a time on anything, which really eats into my time and motivation.

Four work tops (to make it into rotation) was my realistic goal for the year. I wrote recently on my old blog about the workwear dilemma, and my need to expand my smart wardrobe.

I’m starting with McCall’s 5661 – the pattern I was twisting my head around here. This pattern is actually now out of print for some unfathomable reason, but reviews and pictures around the internet suggested that it was such a well-fitting, basic woven top that I paid a little over the odds on eBay to get my hands on it. (I believe that clicking on the line drawings below should expand the image.)

5661line

I’m making what is turning out to be an eminently wearable muslin of View B and my hopes are high. Unfortunately I have no pictures to show yet – the construction order is such that the side seams are sewn up fairly late on – but pin-fitting suggests that my FBA has worked a treat.

The fabric is a double-bed sheet that I picked up in a charity shop in Suffolk earlier this year. It’s a gorgeous pink-tinged light terracotta colour, and despite being polycotton has a wonderfully tight weave (high thread-count, in home furnishings terminology). Only the best unwanted bed linen around here 😉

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So here’s hoping for another TNT. That’d be a great way to kick-start the sewing year.

WIP Detail Shot #1

This is a detail shot from my (other) current knitted WIP:

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Knitting is so satisfying in macro.

Unfortunately I can’t give you a ‘trying on’ shot.

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It might be a little small.

Technical Drawings

, and Why I Wish There Was An Easier Way To Do This

When I’m deciding whether or not I want a sewing pattern, I can be a little… autistic*? I don’t look at the pretty fashion shoot that accompanies it with models and cloths and backdrops. I shoot straight to the technical drawing in order to assess the bare bones of the pattern. Do I like the shape? Can I see it working in my fabric? Can I see it working on my body, with height and curves and what have you?

This approach can be a little hit and miss. The upside is that I get to discover gems hidden behind dodgy styling or a poor fabric choice (can you see that lovely midriff panel on Vogue’s version of V8470? No, nor me, or only if I actively look for it.)

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The downside, of course, is that I miss out on the creative inspiration of seeing how someone has interpreted some lines of a piece of paper. But that’s where I rely on the sewing blogosphere to show me the error of my ways 😉

Either way, I have decided that as a way of keeping track of my increasingly extensive Burda magazine collection, the way to go is via scans of their rather helpful summary page of technical drawings. The advantage of this approach is that if I decide that I want to sew a pencil skirt, I can browse through my scans identifying candidates, without having to look through every page of every magazine in my quest for a suitable pattern. My hope is that this might encourage me to use some of the (literally) hundreds of patterns that I don’t even know that I have.

This does mean that I am committing myself to spending a rather large amount of time with the scanner and image editor in the near future. Still, I guess I can’t have it both ways.

If only Burda had a comprehensive sortable database of all its magazine patterns stretching back to the early-mid 2000s, along with full-size technical drawings.

Yeah, dream on.

*I use that word inappropriately, but you know what I mean.

WIP: My First Jumper

Back in August, I started knitting my first jumper. (Actually it was technically started back in July, but we won’t talk about that.)

I converted Kate Gilbert’s Cinnabar Pullover to be knitted in the round, and dove straight in. I mean, sure, jumpers are big but I figured that they couldn’t be that difficult per se, and it turns out that I was right. Nothing thus far has given me a huge challenge, apart from the occasional need to step away from SO MUCH stockinette stitch and knit something else.

This is where new knitters like me have a tremendous advantage over those hailing from ages past: we have the internet. Based on my fitting experience from sewing, I decided that I wanted to grade between sizes, add some vertical dart shaping in the back, and add a bit of short row shaping for my tummy and boobs in the front. No problems, or certainly none that a bit guidance from friends at Knit Night couldn’t sort out.

Anyway, about ten days before Christmas, I finished the major knitting parts! I had a body, front and back. I had sleeves. I had placket halves. I just needed to seam everything together. Easy, right?

And, um, there it’s sat ever since. I’d read on Ravelry that the wool I’ve been using (Twilley’s Freedom Spirit, if you’re interested) was awful for seaming because it was just too loosely plied, and when I picked the project up again tonight with a wool needle and some friendly instructions on hand, my experience confirmed that. So using a coordinating skein of Baby Cashmerino which I’d picked up explicitely for this purpose, I slowly sewed my first two ever knitted seams – rendering the jumper fit for a WIP photo!

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I’m on a roll, baby! Aren’t the variagated colours in the yarn absolutely gorgeous?