Thursday, 19 April 2012

I Never Picked Cotton

Some time has passed since my disappointing effort at making a Burda 8281 skirt and I've stopped tripping over my lip, so I thought I'd post a picture...

Skirt mishap...buckled fabric
aside from the wonky hem, the main issue is the area between the inserts - the horizontal line and the buckled area underneath it. I should have noticed this when I first marked out and cut the fabric.
Both fabrics are 100% wool, the heathery one is a slightly lighter weight than the tweed (the colours haven't come up very well in the photo). They're long term stash pieces, at least ten years old so at least I'm not feeling the waste of money too keenly.

I got some advice from the lady at my local yarn and sewing shop who reckoned that if the fabric had been folded up in storage for a long time it could cause fibres to stretch. She prefers wool blends for a bit more stability. Lately I've been using wool blends for knitting as my cashmere stash is drying up and the blends are a good deal cheaper. I do remember that we used to find that old cashmere yarn on the cone could degrade quite badly - stretching and snapping easily.  

The pattern itself is easy, and the inserts pressed out nice and flat (plenty of notching on the back) so I would come back to this pattern and try again, possibly in a lightweight wool blend or linen blend. I'll make sure I use the same weight for inserts and main skirt pieces too. 

Currently I'm making view A from the same pattern envelope and hope to post something a bit smarter than this effort soon...

What I have learned from this project:
  • Don't skimp on notching when working on curves
  • Check fabric in daylight
  • It's nice to be sewing (and learning about sewing) again 
  • My hips are not as big as they look in the mirror
  • Mr K will tell it like it is, so be prepared to hear the bad news

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Adventures Close to Home

The January skirt is finished at last. I'm not happy with the result though, and it's unlikely to be worn. Mr K has given his critique and he's spotted all the things I wasn't happy with but was trying to ignore. I might add a pic when I've stopped sulking.

The skirt has taken up so much time (mainly with unpicking), I've let it eat into time allocated for other projects. I suppose I've learned a few things on the way. The pattern wasn't that difficult, but I did make some bad choices with fabric.

I was tacking it the other night and had a sudden reminiscence of the woman who taught us sewing at primary school. She was pretty stern and economical with praise. Her name was Mrs Harrison; I haven't thought about her in nearly 30 years. It was heartening that I could remember her name, and not that of the teacher who, exasperated with my inability to grasp the concept and purpose of long division, asked if I was stupid. 

In Mrs Harrison's class there was only one sewing machine and none of us were allowed to use it. We did the tacking or hand stitching and she did the big seams for us on the machine. The fabric seemed to pass through her fingers in a blur. I really wanted to get my hands on that sewing machine. Eventually I got to use my stepmother's Singer under close supervision. She was also a good teacher, very particular about preparation and things like tacking.    

Here's the garment I completed for March.

It's another cheat as I started this Nessie tank in 2007 and then hid it in a bag when I started some other more interesting project. It's a Martin Storey design in a lambswool/cashmere blend - nice yarn to knit with.

In spite of it taking five years to complete, the pattern is actually a quick knit. There were just a lot of gaps between putting down the needles and picking them up again. (The yarn colour is a bit more earthy than in this photo). I'd probably add another 1" into the body length if I knitted it again.

My next project is meant to be this Vogue pattern for trousers (view A). I've got some lightweight denim set aside for this and have made a toile in a size 12. It seems to fit as well as any trousers I've bought from a shop but it doesn't help that the toile is in a light, unflattering colour. I might do an easy skirt for April and start the trousers in May.

The Little Creature has been great company lately, and full of curiosity (one recent query: do birds burp?). We haven't ventured far lately, but there's been stone skimming at the river, random digging in the garden and making dens with blankets and dining chairs. His enthusiasm is good to be around. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I Started Something I Couldn't Finish

Originally posted (elsewhere) on 10/3/12
At the start of the year, this article got me started on a plan that even at this early stage is unravelling before me.

I decided that this year I wouldn't buy any clothes, with the reasonable exceptions of footwear and underwear. Instead, I would make one garment a month, with a view to learning a new skill or technique each month.

So January - a nice easy task to get started with an aim to learning a bit more about my overlocker, not least how to rethread it without swearing so much. I chose this Burda skirt pattern (see right). My skirt still isn't finished, but I have got better and quicker with the overlocker.

There are reasons for this, some of them are the same reasons that got me started on this project too. Mr K's lovely dad, a former engineer who usually had some sort of project on the go, as well as managing a large vegetable garden, spent the last six months of his life quietly losing a battle with pulmonary fibrosis. As he lived nearby, we were lucky to be able to spend a lot of time with him - in good health and bad.

In days of better health, he used to teach me to drive on the country roads round here. The driving lesson was an excuse to try out different cafes and tea shops for fry ups or tea and cake. We made vague threats about compiling a book on the cafes of Southern Scotland. The quality of their cheese scones was the usual test. If they had gluten-free cake on the menu they got extra points, but not if it tasted like packaging material. Once we were at a cafe where the owner came out of the kitchen and announced they were closing early that day as they were going to bury their cat and have a little ceremony in their garden. After that, the cafe was always known to us as the Dead Cat Place.

I've wasted hours - years probably - thinking about doing things or making things. Laziness or lack of confidence have been the usual obstacles. It seems to have only recently occurred to me that life just isn't long enough to get everything done, and to fit in all the learning. I've been so slow to figure this out; meanwhile lots of people around me have been busy getting on with all kinds of interesting and worthwhile stuff.

Here is my February garment. It's from this Debbie Bliss knitting pattern with a couple of my own alterations. I learned how to do mattress stitch for sewing it up. Somehow I got this finished before the skirt:

There's something quite meditational about knitting that I don't get from sewing. Once you've got the pattern set you can get into a bit of a trance. You can also watch telly and knit; I wouldn't try that with sewing.

The over-exposed photo hides the mistakes I made on the last two rows of the collar. It's a bit of a cheat as I started this piece last July, put it away in a bag and finished knitting it in February. It was a day into March when it was actually sewn up and finished. A lot happened in February.