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.

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Cold Shoulder Cardigan

I’ve worn this cardigan for several winters. It’s wonderfully soft and warm, but I’ve been finding the colour really boring.

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It was bought as a man’s cardigan from a factory outlet in NZ. After a few wears, I cut a bunch of fullness out of the shoulders to reshape it for me. This is the excised portion, shoulder seam at the top, sleeve seam at right.

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Now I’ve added some colour for fun using my food dyeing tricks. In the process, I discovered just how much water can be drawn through wool overnight. Capillary action I’m told. I’m so glad I put the red end in a bowl!

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Here it is dyed and dried. I’m pretty pleased, though I think it’s felted a little in the dyed sections. Still fits though, thankfully.

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For extra fun, I overdyed some grey yarn to match with the intention of making a hat to go with it.

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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.

Fettiplace Pickled Mushrooms

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Based on “To pickle mushrooms” from Elinor Fettiplace’s receipt book. This welcome survivor holds extensive treasures of 17thC cooking.

400ml white wine
6 peppercorns (should be white, I used black being what I had)
half a nutmeg
a blade of mace
3cm ginger root, peeled and sliced

Simmer all above, covered, for 10min. Cool.

600g button mushrooms (one full standard mushroom bag)
heaped teaspoon salt

Heat gently in a wide pan, shaking or stirring frequently. They will release moisture. Continue heating slowly until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid has almost all gone. Cool.

When all is cool, load the mushrooms to a sterilised jar and pour the spiced wine over. The picture above shows the entire recipe in one pickle jar. Mushrooms sure shrink when cooked!

They came out really well and kept happily for the couple of weeks needed. The flavour is much milder than regular pickles. Slightly salty. They made an excellent lunch component. I’ll make a lot more next time. A fellow cook tells me these are amazing in a toasted cheese sandwich.

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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Still Patchworking

I’ve been neglecting the blog. Sorry about that. I’ve been sick for the last few weeks and spending an awful lot of time on the couch with the patchwork. We now have 121 blocks made!

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I’ve also done another round of thinking on the overall design. I thought just the lattice alone might be a bit dull, so I made a sunny centre:

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I mean to add more detail, sunrays etc when I eventually get as far as quilting it. The current plan is to have this in the middle with a lattice surround 5 blocks deep and one block worth of black border, in which more quilted detail can feature. 180 lattice blocks needed for this. 121 is therefore a tiny bit over two thirds. I did know this would take a while. The current lurgy means it’s advancing faster than I expected.

 

6mth Blogversary

My little blog is half a year old. Or it was 2 days ago. I had plans to post on the day but my time got filled with other things. An obsession with boxes (more later) and preparation for very welcome house guests.

I have mostly written here about finished projects. Today though I’m going to share a longer term labour intensive project that will take many more months to finish.

I have a fondness and admiration for Liberty Tana Lawn. I know I am so not alone in that.  I’ve made quite a few shirts over the years out of it, and saved the cabbage. I’ve also purchased a few remnants. I’ve been keen for years to eventually come up with a patchwork project to combine and use these. Then I had a 3wk trip to plan for, which of course includes deciding what handwork I would take with me to keep me happy and occupied. I often take sock knitting, but the other thing I like to do as a travel project is English pieced patchwork.

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Hmm, but what design to use? I felt that all the Liberty scraps did not divide well into sufficiently contrasting shades, so they all needed to be treated as one. I did however want some contrast to make things “pop”. I played with image searches and eventually decided that a lattice design with black as the contrast might work well. I drew up a trial version on engineer’s graph paper to test the thought and decide on proportions. It turned out to be remarkably difficult to reliably identify the correct intersections to draw to!

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I did like the plan though so I cut a bunch of fabric shapes and much more carefully cut the papers. By golly it’s hard to cut the papers accurately!

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After a couple of weeks of travel and amusing myself working on this, I laid what I had done out. Thankfully I like it a lot.

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Now, several more weeks on, I have 52 blocks made. Many more to go to!

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Ho Hum

Yet another chemise. Now I can do Festival in 14thC with a clean chemise each day.

It doesn’t look like much hanging. White on white.

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It’s linen. Of course. Or at least what we believe to be linen (some of the Job warehouse haul). Sewn mostly by machine in cotton thread. All seams are neatly flat felled, even if only by machine. My uber authenticity friends will think ill of me for that. I’d claim to not have enough arm to do it by hand. Actually I suppose I could, over quite a long period.  It seems I’d rather spend that capacity on my patchwork.  Some medievalist I am eh?

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Neckline is faced with straight grain double fold tape of the same fabric. Handsewn down, though I had a brain spasm and went with a less than wonderful stitch choice. I realised partway, but chose at that point to just continue.

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The wrists and hem are done by hand in a prettier stitch, which the camera really didn’t want to focus on.

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Here she is having a rest on the little sofa :-). Nope I’m not pressing it.

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Dress from a coat pattern

Two years ago, I made a coat for a friend who lives in another state. I was delighted and proud that the pattern I draped from scratch, worked so well even without any further fittings at all.

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I had thought at the time that I could possibly make some minor modifications to the pattern and make it up as a dress. Then the lady had a birthday approaching, so I decided to gird my whatsits and give the dress plan a go. Again, no physical access to the lady, and I wanted it to be a surprise, so I had to work completely from the 2yr old pattern.

So I dropped the shoulder seam and cut in the top of the armholes a bit so it would work without shoulder pads. I added a waist seam to both make it more alterable just in case. This has the bonus of making the cutting a lot more efficient. I cut the skirts a tiny bit fuller, just following the line from the waist, there was no issue trying to minimise weight from that heavy wool. I made it up in shirting weight indigo blue linen. Very simple and severe, which suits the lady’s taste. 3/4 sleeves ditto.

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Last night she told me that not only did it arrive safely, she loves it and it basically fits. The side seams need taking in a bit, but if that is the only change needed, that is fairly easily done. I’m delighted. Of course now I notice that the left sleeve is more creased than I would like in these pics. Oh well, I can’t take any more now!