Rescue to fill a need

It’s winter here, and I decided it was time to bring out my hand pieced silk cushion covers. However, I was missing one for the set of cushions I like to have in the living room. I didn’t want to take time to make another from scratch while I still have the lattice quilt in progress. Hmm. Then I remembered I had these little hexagonal ones I had fallen out with. The purple colours don’t work in the room. The right hand one has good colouring but made me thing instantly of a car company rather than the trefoil-esque motif that it was intended to be.

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After some thought, I decided that if I chopped that right hand one down the middle, split the two halves and did some sort of infill, it would serve the desired purpose with a relatively modest amount of effort.

This was the result:

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I’m moderately pleased with it. It does at least stop one’s brain going straight to the car company. I’d rather have used colours for the infill rather than black and brown, but I felt that heavy silk would perform better and these were the only two pieces I had.  It was still quite a bit of work, maybe a day’s effort all up? I make the fronts of these covers as tiny quilts. The batting evens out the texture and the quilting supports the fragile silk. They have proved more robust in use than I originally feared.

Anyway. It gives me the cover I wanted to work in with the other three and the original cushion gets to see some service. The red and turquoise one second right is not my work but that of a friend, made for me many years ago.

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Patchwork Milestone

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Look! My insane lattice patchwork is ready to lay out. After six months of almost daily stitching, all the blocks are made, nine sections of 16 blocks are assembled and a goodly down payment on the black joining pieces are basted to their papers.

I am so keen to lay it out and finish arranging things. I need to come up with some sort of system though, so I can do so and then stack it up in extractable order. I do not want it living on the cutting table for weeks or months. Hmm.

Out of Season

This is a summer garment even though where I am it’s now very much winter. Sometimes a length of cloth states so firmly what it wants to be, that one may as well just make it up. The last three times I opened the stash cupboard, this linen said “Ahem, I will be a summer shift dress please. See, I’m a lovely cool open weave in calm, cool colours. Really. You can even use that bodice pattern you are so keen on right now” *. So, I did as it said. I pressed the cloth and cut it out. Laid it aside while I had a lovely house guest. Then made it up over the last couple of days.

Yes, that’s the same bodice as the last few dresses, only this time with no darts and with the side seam angled out to dress cloth width (~112cm). Shirt tail hem. The front has a shaped facing and front slit for visual interest. The back has a deep, lined yoke with a centre seam. This way, the whole thing could be sewn by machine, using the turn-through-the-shoulder method. The neckline and shoulder seam have straight grain tape stabilising them. I’ve used no interfacing otherwise. That back pleat was not intended. I stuffed up when cutting the back yoke and forgot to angle out those short sides so I lost a little width. Oh well, the pleat looks good anyway.

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I did put some care into placement of the huge checks. There wasn’t quite enough fabric to allow full matching of the checks front to back. However it did work if I inverted the back skirt piece and matched the white stripe. Neater than no matching at all anyway.

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I won’t normally make pretend things on garments. Closures that don’t open, buttons that don’t fasten, pocket type trim without actual pockets. I broke my rule. These buttons are simply sewn on to close the slit and look pretty. It just seemed the thing that would lift what would have otherwise been a more boring garment.

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So now this fabric is happy and has stopped yelling at me, I can move on to the next thing.

*no, fabric doesn’t really talk to me. Not out loud anyway. It does seem to be opinionated at times though :-).

“Nothing” to wear

I had an appointment coming up in corporate land. Having gone to this office a few times now, I’m finally aware that it’s heated so much that I will overheat in anything more than shirt sleeves. I quite seriously had nothing in the wardrobe in which I was willing to be seen, in shirt sleeves, in corporate land. This was made to fill that gap.

It’s the same pullover pattern as the last few dresses, but with a deeper neckline and made out of very fine wool suiting. So a corporate friendly pinafore dress. I think I’ve cut it just high enough to wear as a dress alone, but it’s on the roomy side so I can wear a variety of shirts and/or jumpers under it.

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I’ve put a tab and buttons on each side to make it follow the figure a little more.  This basically replaces an underbust dart. If the fabric were any heavier, this closure would be too bulky I think.

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This picture shows the fabric better. It’s a pleasing teeny tiny woven check in chocolate brown and black. I’ve stab stitched the neckline to preserve the nice soft edge. Machine top stitching would have squashed the character out of the fabric.  The lining is top quality Bemberg rayon cut from a too small petticoat I made years ago. It’s wonderful stuff to wear but the slitheriest fabric I’ve ever sewn.

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Here it is, with my serious face on. Only sometimes do I remember to smile for these pics.  It’s lovely to wear. Really comfortable and nicely swishy with it’s full circle skirt. After the meeting, still in town, I collected a welcome compliment on the ensemble, from a lady who turned out to be a fellow dressmaker. Sweet.

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New Nightshirt

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This feels a little like showing pictures of my underwear. It’s quite decent though really. It’s a modest garment and I’m not even modelling it.

Some people like pyjamas, some people prefer nothing. I like voluminous white nightgowns. I find them comfy, and I can pretend I’m a historical figure or a character from a book :-).  I’ve been making them myself for years, because although one can buy the sort of thing I like, they are jolly expensive. My current favourite winter one is just a loose, ankle length shirt. So I decided I’d make another like it. It’s my standard shirt pattern cut a little wider under the arms and with the side seams angled out to use the full (only 112cm wide) fabric width. I’ve learned finally not to put lace on the hem, it ends up too bulky to be comfortable. So this is just a shirt tail hem with the back intentionally a bit longer.

The fabric is a flannelly cotton/linen blend (or so I presume, it’s certainly cellulose fibre and feels very much like some cotton/linen I had years ago). It feels a little heavy initially but goes beautifully soft on working.  I have a bolt of it from a warehouse closing sale. So if I like it, I have a lifetime supply of winter nightgown fabric.

If I’d thought more about the lace placement before I made the button placket, I’d have done a matching point. Oh well. Ah yes, the placket is a different fabric, a plain shirt weight linen. I was concerned that the flannel would come out too bulky with all the folds that this sort of placket generates.

I must say, applying that lace at the end of the cuff, enclosed in the seam was a rather more complicated affair than I expected. I’m happy I made it work though there was a bit of unpicking and changes of plan needed before we got there.

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Paisley Printed Pinwhale Popover

I’ve enjoyed wearing this dress so much that I wanted one for winter. I had 2.1 metres of this great paisley printed pinwhale cord, so I decided to squeeze as much dress out of it as I could.

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I cut the bodice then an eight gore skirt from the rest. Yes cord has a nap. I’ve gone with the trick of using one nap direction for the front and the other for the back of the dress. The little scraps from the neckline etc were used to make pockets. There are only tiny slivers of fabric left!

The bodice is lined with a gorgeous spotted rayon:

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All was going well, until I realised I had miscut the skirt and the waist diameter was too small. Oh no! I could either take in the bodice, or cut the skirt shorter. Being winter, I wanted knee coverage so I boldly put some casually placed under bust darts in the bodice. It’s now barely big enough to pull on, but still works.

From a distance, the fabric reads darker than I would like

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Still. It works, and I can accessorise it with brighter things. I’m pleased too that it makes another outfit base to go with these cute and comfy boots.

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Here it is on. Loose and comfy and fun.

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Resurrection

Isn’t it nice when a plan works? My thoughts on how to best resurrect that well worn coat were enacted pretty much exactly. First I removed the lining. It was cut away from the sleeve slits and cuffs. Only the front and neck facings were unpicked. My take on unpicking these days is very much to minimise it. If one can get away with cutting the unwanted parts away, then do. Life is too short and my arm’s work capacity is limited.

Then the wool outer was washed, gently.  Then I dyed some of the fine but strong and hard wearing beige wool suiting in stash to a nice green. It didn’t go quite as dark as the forest green would have liked but the hue is really good.

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Then I cut a deep facing for all the edges (except the hem)from the newly dyed cloth and applied it by machine except for the hem finishing. This will be fine for it’s intended use and the whole refurbishment still took me about a day of labour spread across three. Oh and I top stitched down all the seams because they are no longer protected by a lining. Plus I added straight grain reinforcing for some seams, such as the shoulders. It won’t last for forever but should do another couple of years.

From this:

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To this rather more respectable version:

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The owner is pleased. As he should be.

Save

Dead or worth saving?

I made this coat as a present for a good friend over 6 years ago.

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It has just been returned to me looking like this. The owner hopes for refurbishment. I’m trying to decide if that’s worth doing. At least I know it’s been worn and appreciated!

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I’ve cut out what remained of the lining. In places, the cotton velvet had disintegrated and felted up in the seams. Below is the cuff after the lining was cut away. Interesting, but icky enough that I cut again just above the stitching and brushed away as much of the felt as I could.

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The wool outer is in the machine now on a handwash cycle. I’ll see what comes out before deciding what can be done. IF the wool survives the wash, I’m thinking I’ll face it with hardwearing fine wool suiting but not do a full lining. Oh, and sewn by machine not by hand. That will be fine for the purpose.

Out of paper error (or method in my madness)

Some of you are going to get really sick of this quilt, some probably already are. Others might enjoy the progress updates. I feel like sharing my excitement about this next stage. Look away if you are bored.

At 125 blocks, I ran out of papers. So I decided to be brave and start joining the blocks so I can liberate papers for the next blocks, rather than cutting yet more papers. This is exciting but a bit scary because I want to have a fairly even distribution of fabrics, and if I introduce any more before I finish making blocks, I might end up with a concentration in a section. So… I decided to make sections of 4×4 blocks so they can be switched about and there will be gaps and edges to add to later. Each of these sections will liberate enough papers for another 9 blocks.

The next decision was how to arrange the blocks. There is a system of fabric/colour arrangement within each block. I’ve learned over my years of patchwork, that to achieve a pleasing balance of colour, one needs there to be order. Random doesn’t deliver the look I want. So my initial set of fabrics were split into four sets. These are very roughly designated as Pales, Reds, Oranges and Blues. One of each has been used in the same order for every block. This spreads the colours out and makes it easier to avoid having the same fabrics adjacent.

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As block production progressed, I also decided to make four blocks of each fabric arrangement and split those into four sets of blocks, from which I build the sections. Just another contribution to achieving a good spread of fabrics.

After several trials, I decided to arrange the blocks with each one in the same orientation. It puts each “colour” furthest from it’s fellows and was the option deemed least likely to cause a stuff up. Here is the first section assembled. So good to see it all neat as well as madly colourful:

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and then with the tacking threads removed on all but the edge most pieces. It looks so crisp!

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and again after the papers have been removed. Softer and more like it will end up. Still gorgeous if I do say so myself. Tee hee, without meaning to, each of these pictures has the section a different way up.

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A pic from the back, with the stack of liberated papers ready for reuse.

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Collar Issues

Sometimes it is brought home to me that I’m not as good at this game as I’d like to be.

This poor shirt has been lying part made, crunkled into a ball, since early January. The fabric is vintage Liberty Tana, bought from a shirt making firm closing down their Melbourne city workshop. I had wanted to make a fully classic shirt, including two part collar. I didn’t have such a collar to match my current shirt pattern, so I used one from my previous shirt pattern. I thought I’d checked the seam lengths, but it still ended up a couple of centimetres short. Boo. Once I’d convinced myself I couldn’t make it work, I threw a minor hissy fit, unpinned the failed collar and put the shirt bits aside. For months as it turned out.

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Today, I decided that I would at least drape the constructed body/yoke on me to try to see what was going on. Aha. The neckhole is way too big. Why did I not see that before? It doesn’t look too bad in this pic, but that is the cut edge, not where the seam will end up lying.

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Given the neck edge was already clipped, I decided to revert to a narrow straight cut collar. Sad. Not what I wanted, but I’ve learned something.

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See, too big. Pretty colours though:

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I did at least make my first set of proper cuffs for ages, narrowed to better go with the narrow band collar. Also, my theory about making one of the wrist pleats a continuation of the sleeve crease seems to work. Hurrah. I thought that would make neat ironing easier.

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Here is the whole thing:

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and a sexier, more insouciant pose

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