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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a few steps back

but a decision has at least been made on the lattice patchwork. I’d stalled for a week or so, trying to finally decide whether to use the sun block or not.  I was never sure it was the right thing and for some reason a couple of the edge pieces refused to line up. Then I found that I had stuffed up and made it about 7mm too small in both dimensions. That’s it. Three strikes and you’re out. Three bits of dubiousness or disappointment and that element I’m trying to make work is rejected. I won’t throw it out, I’m sure it will find a home in another project eventually.

So. The new plan is to replace the sun area with more lattice blocks. Not a huge issue and I’m feeling much happier about this. I just need to make 16 extra blocks, which I’ve just cut the fabric for.  I now need 196 blocks in total, of which I’ve made 160. 36 to go. Quite doable.

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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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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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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!

FFF 2017 #1

That is, Folk (music) Festival Fashion. The first folk music festival I went to, I just wore regular jeans and tshirt type things. When I saw some of the interesting things other people turned up in, I felt like I had missed an opportunity big time. Guess who likes dressing up? So when there is a festival in the offing, I like to make an appropriate new thing or two. This one ticks both the wholemeal and vaguely-other-ethnicity boxes.

As usual, I’m having a “my goodness this fabric is great” moment. Really, I’d buy more of this in lots of colours if I could get it. However, I bought this as a bolt end, also as usual. Sigh. It’s mid weight cotton with a hand loomed sort of look and a relaxed crinkle. Launders and wears beautifully. I haven’t been wearing much brown of late, but this will take me back there a bit at least.

This is a half circle wrap skirt made up of 16 gores. Most are cut as balanced triangles, the end gores are cut with one vertical edge on the straight grain so the end facing/hems will be stable. It even has a pocket.

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I’ve broken my usual rule of not doing contrast top stitching in order to add restrained interest, and to lighten the overall dark impression. The implement that makes this achievable neatly? Using my blind hemming foot to guide the top stitching. It works wonderfully well, as long as one can restrain it from running off the guide seam.

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Garments with strings are a pain in the laundry. My solution is to make the tie strings detachable as so:

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Here is the skirt on, with bonus towel on head:

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And here, styled to head into town to an exhibition:

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Paua Inspired Cardi

I have lots of cardigans but I’ve been wanting a light weight loosely fitting one. Most of my existing ones fit on the firm side. So I took some white pure wool rib knit fabric that I had bought very cheaply, and cut an embiggened and flared version of my Tshirt pattern. I did a few rounds of pin fitting and chopping bits off before I was happy with the shape and ran it up on the overlocker. It was still too large, but then I remembered that the rib was likely to tighten when washed. So stopping at that point felt wise.

I put it to soak in some warm vinegared water for a bit, and yes, it did tighten up. Then I had fun with a dye pot, trying for an elegant gradient effect of some sort using green/blue/red dyes. I wish I’d taken a shot of the before version laid out on the table, but I’d been too keen to get to the dyeing. Here is the result from the dyeing but before finishing, next to the leftover starting fabric. I love it!

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The buttons look like they were made for it. Instead they were a serendipitous stash gift from a friend.

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The label shot. I did a subtle prick stitch by hand around the neckline to keep the seam from rolling. The same trick was used at the bottoms of the arm and side seams to neaten the hem edge. Oh, the hems are done with just a zigsag stitch on a regular sewing machine, but with silk thread so it would take the dye along with the wool.

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Here it is on, pre dye (see, it’s too big at this stage):

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and finished:

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The sleeves are too long but if I shorten them now, I’ll lose the full effect of the dye job. Other than that I’m really pleased with it.