Monthly Archives: June 2013

BiCraftual

I’d consider myself a sewist first and a knitter second. Chronologically, of course, but also in terms of my identity.

Despite this, my knitting has been getting rather a lot more attention over the past few months. I put this down to several things:

  • Knitting is portable. I can take it with me on car journeys, pick it up at lunch breaks, knit in bed…
  • Knit nights. I dedicate an evening a week to going out and socialising and knitting. This is part of my routine, again in a way that sewing just isn’t.
  • Knitting is still new and shiny for me.
  • Ravelry is a place where I spend quite a lot of my internet-time these days, and the resultant inspiration factor is huge. Sewing doesn’t have the equivalent. PatternReview.com is great for a purpose but it’s not a site that one browses in the same way. I was an avid member of TheSewingForum.co.uk for quite a while but it’s not the same – more of a forum (as the name suggests) than an all-encompassing resource. And I did once briefly venture onto MySewingCircle.com but… meh.
  • I can knit when my hips are grouchy.
  • I can knit when I’m too tired or depressed to entrust myself with electrically powered sharp-moving objects.

So since its inception back in January, I think it’s fair to say that this blog has been all about the knitting. My mind still wanders from one craft to the other, though, on a fairly regular basis.

Yesterday I was in a knitting mood. I picked up some of the newly released Katia Air Lux yarn at a local yarn shop. This stuff feels incredible. It is a viscose/virgin wool 3ply with a beautiful shimmer and it is so light and so soft that there was no way I was leaving it in the shop. In a serendipitous piece of timing, I have paired it up in my queue with Ysolda Teague’s Orchid Thief Shawlette which will totally qualify for the Crafting Library KAL if and when Chrissy launches it!

IMG_6532

Today my head has been all about the sewing. And so it naturally followed that my retail therapy would wander in that direction too. Why yes, of course I need more fabric. *ahem*

cart

Are you bi/multi-craftual? How do you handle your hobbies vying for attention?

Status Check #2

1. Knitted – Omelette

I fear that this has entered hibernation status. I’m no further than last time.

2. Knitted – Peacock Eyes Cardigan

I am so close to finishing this I can almost taste it!!! I bound off one sleeve last night (61cm of yarn left) and the other earlier this evening (71cm left). I’ve removed the lifelines that I had in there for counting purposes and thus all I need to do is weave in ends, block, and sew on buttons!

IMG_6523 (600 x 450)

3. Sewn – BWOF 02-2013-126

Yeah, still in pieces in the bag. This blog’s not called “Sewing Slowly” for nothing, ya know!

4. Sewn – BWOF 03-2012-121 (modified)

Officially a UFO and stashed away in disgust. Next.

5. Sewn – Colette Lily

This one’s doing fine. Everything’s cut out now, bar the straps but including the skirt lining and the tops have all been attached to their respective bottoms. I’m having to shorten the skirt and piece the straps due to lack of fabric, but touch wood it’ll be OK.

I’m not actually convinced about the particular order of construction that Colette recommend – effectively constructing the dress vertically before horizontally – because it means that you can’t try on the (fitted) bodice until the skirt is there too. That means that if you discover you need to make any ‘vertical’ alterations to the bodice it’s a pain in the backside. You don’t even get the benefit of less fabric in play when you insert the zip because that has to be done after the facing/ flap, which in turn has to be done after you’ve joined together the bodice… so yeah.

I did take the precaution of pin fitting the bodice pieces before sewing up the waist seams, and I’m glad that I did because I discovered that I needed to take quite a bit of fabric out in order to get anything approaching a close fit. You can see my altered cutting lines on the pattern pieces in blue felt tip here (originals size 10):

IMG_6525 (600 x 450) IMG_6526 (600 x 450)

 

The alterations at the bottom of the bodice are no big surprise – effectively tapering out for my hips, and taking a bit out of the middle back for my swayback. But look at the top of the side pieces. That’s a full two inches taken out – on each side! The bust fits beautifully, so I fear the moral of this story is that even in curvy-girl Colette patterns I need to go down a base bodice size and do an FBA. Sigh.

Oh, and I totally wish that Ann had published this post before I had cut out my twill weave fabric!

WAK#8: Textured Tee

Textural interest? Tick.

Cap Sleeves for a flattering shape? Tick.

Easy to make fitting modifications? Tick.

Top-down? Tick.

Can you tell that I think that Eliada by Svetlana Volkova is awesomesauce? I particularly love the subtle hemline detailing!

Photo by tweedysheep on Ravelry

Pod-Casting About

The day so far has been spent doing this and that – bit of tidying, bit of cleaning, going with Jonathan to Halfords and Homebase because I wanted the company and hey, it’s an outing. I’m not horrendously low but I’m not in a great place either, and when that happens I often find that pottering about doing useful bits and bobs is quite soothing.

However I do want to do some work on my dress this afternoon. I’ve discovered recently that I can sew or knit whilst in this particular frame of mind (which I used not to be able to) – provided that I have the company of a knitting podcast.

I’m very much a newbie to the world of listening to podcasts. I was aware of their existence, obviously, but I couldn’t really see their place in my life. I don’t have a particularly long commute to work, or a portable music player that works. When I tried a sewing podcast a while back, I became frustrated at the visual reference that was missing compared to my blog-reading. I also don’t ‘do’ just sitting and listening with nothing else in my hands.

But then I discovered Chrissy’s podcast at Stitched Together, and I loved it! It turns out that all along I was just trying the wrong podcasts. I don’t want to have to be hanging on every last detail of a fast-moving narrative. I want it to feel like chatting at Knit Night, with the added benefit of a few judiciously written ‘show notes’ which provide a few pictures and links to patterns or websites discussed.

Chrissy’s logo

I’ve realised that Chrissy’s podcast is the first British podcast I’d listened to, and I’m not going to lie – I find her soft East Midlands tones much more relaxing than some of the American accents out there (although I’ve no doubt that I could tune in to an American accent if I was enjoying the show enough). There’s also something reassuring in listening to someone else who doesn’t have three new FOs every week, and who does have to count the pennies, and who does have to count spoons too. She’s lovely, and having her playing while I sit down at the machine feels like great company.

I’ve no doubt that I will find other podcasts that I want to recommend at some point… but for now I am going to stop rambling and start sewing. I’ve already listened to Chrissy’s latest episode, so I’m going to be exploring her list of recommendations on Ravelry for this afternoon’s entertainment.

If you’re into knitting and not familiar with podcasts, then go on – do give them a try!

Buying Lining Amongst Bloggers

I have a deadline for the dress that I’m currently making. A schoolfriend, S, is getting married on the 6th July and much as I love the Burda twist dress that I made in John Kaldor crepe fabric last year (those of you who read my old blog may remember it!), I just felt a bit bored at the thought of bringing it out for a fourth wedding on the trot.

With time, fabric, and a clear vision in my head I set sail. I talked in my last sewing post about block fusing the bodice pieces, but forget to mention what pattern I was using! D’oh!

Let me correct that here. I cashed in a $10 e-voucher that I’ve had sitting about for a while, and downloaded the Colette Lily pattern. It had the exact bodice shape that I wanted and I was keen to try out Colette’s upper-body fit (with something forgiving like princess seams should anything go wrong!). Rather than pair it with the slim fit skirt though, which could be asking for trouble with my figure and a shimmery fabric, I decided to draft a half-circle skirt – I think the fabric will handle it beautifully* – so something along the lines of this:

skirted lily

I’ll talk more about the fit and construction of the dress in a future post.

But back to today, I realised that I needed some lining. Even though the bodice is effectively underlined, that skirt was clearly going to benefit from the bit of extra body and flare that a lining provides. Rather than faff about with trying to squeeze circle skirt pieces from the various bits of anti-static polyester in my stash, I decided that a trip in to Barry’s Fabrics was in order.

Barry’s is fantastic. Barry’s is amazing. It’s a single warehouse in Digbeth (in the centre of town), and it’s basically stuffed to the gills with fabric. The prices are pretty good as well. Not dirt-cheap but thoroughly affordable, and more to the point is it’s all proper dressmaking fabric – none of this novelty quilting stuff for £eye-watering/metre.

Walking through the door, I was struck by how full the shop was. I mean, sure, it’s a Saturday. But even so – the aisles were full of excitable young people, most of whom had clearly travelled some way. And then I caught sight of the button rosette badges and it clicked. I had stumbled onto a sewing bloggers’ meet-up, a bit of Googling of which has revealed to be the one organised by Claire of Sew Incidentally.

I exchanged pleasantries with one or two of the bloggers whilst we were waiting to have our fabric cut, and I found myself wondering whether I want to get involved in the online sewing community too, more than just leaving the occasional comment. They all seemed like lovely people and what fun it would be to be able to share my hobby with others on a real-life basis!

And I realised that actually I don’t. The number of people in Barry’s completely overwhelmed me. When I got out of there, purchases in hand, the anxiety was racing and I drove home needing comfort and quiet reassurance from Jonathan. I love sewing and I love being able to discuss sewing, but in many ways it’s quite a personal activity. Me and my fabric. Me and my sewing machine. Chatting about patterns with a friend or pawing over somebody else’s fabric choices – fine. But being part of a huge group just isn’t me, and I think it’s quite important to be able to recognise that.

What did I come home with?

Three metres of a light-coloured mystery fabric from the £2/metre table. It’s feels like a cotton-poly mix, possibly, and it’s very light with quite an open weave. It wouldn’t be great for using as a fashion fabric, but as lining for a summer dress it’ll be perfect. Clearly I bought way more than I’ll need for this project, but it’ll be useful to have on hand for future makes.

Half a metre of muslin (as in actual muslin) for Jonathan to use in the kitchen.

And two metres of a gorgeously soft charcoal 100% acrylic ponteroma.

130615-215949

Some people are bright satin prints. I’m a charcoal ponteroma, or a pale gold/ pewter shimmer lined with light polycotton. I’m cool with that.

x

*And I clearly wasn’t going to have enough fabric for a properly full skirt nicked from the one of the Vogue dress patterns that I own. C’est la vie.

WAK #7: DROPS jacket

I do apologise to anyone who has been waiting for next installment of Work-Appropriate Knitting and getting impatient. Life seems to have taken over around here recently.

Anyway, here’s something for you all to chew on. A cardigan-jacket with the catchiest name ever (I lie): DROPS 123-6 Fitted jacket in stocking st with cables in ”Alpaca”. I’m not sure why “Alpaca” needs its own quotation marks – I mean, I know that DROPS produce a yarn entitled such, but you wouldn’t misunderstand the title if they just said alpaca. I digress.

Photo courtesy of DROPS

I really like the subtle collar, the relatively structured fit, and the simple interest of the matching cables. If I were to make this, I would customise it to mimic an actual suit jacket as much as possible: neutral colour, three buttonholes with large-ish matching buttons, and hip length rather than the standard cardigan length that DROPS have chosen. As such I’m choosing “Yes, with modifications” on the poll below.

Will I make this? Well, it’s an entire jacket in 4-ply…

Block Fusing

I have had a day off today, courtesy of being able to use my annual leave allowance whenever the hell I like, and the sewing mojo has struck. The shimmery fabric that I bought at Abakhan’s at Easter has been begging to become a summer dress, and who am I to refuse such pleas when the sun is finally shining and I have a wedding to go to next month?

This fabric is beautiful. It washed on 30 degrees and dried practically before it was out of the machine. It’s a gorgeous colour and a gorgeous drape… but a pig to cut out because the grain is practically non-existant and it’s unstable as heck. Not great for the fitted bodice that I’d be envisaging.

But then I realised that I had a solution! I could underline it. Better still, I could effectively underline it with interfacing before cutting, thus preserving the shape of the pieces, stabilising, and de-wrinkling all in one go. I use ‘proper’ interfacing from Gill Arnold. Essentially it’s a fabric in its own right – it has a warp and a weft, and means that the fabric you apply it to remains its drape. It’s not cheap, but the difference between it and the stiff, papery stuff that you buy for 30p/metre from the Rag Market… well there’s just no competition. They’re pretty much different notions altogether.

In classic block fusing, you fuse a whole area of interfacing to a whole wrong side of fabric and then lay your pieces out as normal. In order to preserve as much of my precious cotton fusible as possible, I simply cut out my pattern pieces from the interfacing, fused them onto the spread-out fabric and then cut around the fused shapes.

IMG_6503 (600 x 450)

This will make the everything much easier to sew as well as cut, and because the exposed side of the interfacing feels like a smooth cotton, I reckon I’ll get away without having to line anything either. Win!