I have had the sort of spell with my sewing (and knitting!) that makes me think that there are forces at work to prevent me from making progress. Bits of pattern seem to walk off alone, instructions go missing, and knitting patterns go missing from the bag. It would be nice to blame someone else but I suspect it is happening because I feel so disorganised at the moment. I have been trying to be organised, but clearly not hard enough.
My workroom usually looks OK as it has to be ‘within bounds’ for when clients come for fittings and such. Not so my ‘back room’. OMG it is a mess. This is where all of my fabric, patterns, magazines, and frankly anything else I can’t find a home for tends to lurk. I know that I am better at starting projects than finishing – and that tends to get as far as the planning stage where I have got the pattern drawn/copied, found fabric and notions, and….. ground to a halt with it all in a pile. Add multiple projects into the mix and you can see why it has gotten into a state.
Well, I decided that it couldn’t carry on. Inside every Mess Monster is a tidy beast who really wants to get out. Or so I decided.
Digging through a pile of papers (a very wobbly pile it has to be said) I discovered the pattern pieces for multiple projects still in my dreams, and also the paper pieces and fabric pieces for a bucket hat that was cut out before we went to the USA. I found the pattern on Rhondas blog, but it was from a site called ‘Lost in Paris’ and the link to Rhondas tutorial is HERE .I did take two of these with me and this one was clearly left behind with not enough time to make up. I abandoned the mess and spent less than an hour sewing this into a hat, and also putting the pieces (all sizes – now correctly marked) into an envelope and into the right place. Score! Multiple stray pieces now turned into a tidy pattern and a hat that can be worn. That can live in The Managements car – he has a sporty two seater which has a roof which folds off and when it does I inevitably end up with the sun in my eyes.
One thing I was reminded of while I was making this hat was how I mark seam allowances that aren’t standard – or just aren’t marked on your sewing machine. It isn’t particularly clever, and I’m sure loads of you already do this, but this is so simple it’s almost not obvious. I use Post It notes (Sticky notes) with the sticky edge along the point that the fabric slides against. I already have a magnetic seam guide which is brilliant on my old Singer machines but not quite so amazing on modern machines. I sometimes use the ‘quilting bar’ thingy to guide wider seams but sometimes that isn’t wide enough. Again, the Post It comes to the rescue. And they are dirt cheap so I’m happy to throw them away once they loose their ‘stick’.
I have an enormous pile of pictures pulled out of magazines and newspapers of garments/outfits I like. I could probably use Pinterest or some other clever electronic way of storing these to good effect but I actually enjoy just leafing through a pile of these pictures from time to time to see what jumps out. Sometimes it’s not obvious, or something has past its ‘sell by date’ and can be thrown away. If I had just put all of these straight into the folder where they live there wouldn’t be half the problem – but it seems quicker sometimes just to drop them on the pile in the right room. More haste less speed?
I also have boxes that my magazines are meant to live in. The copies of Burda are mainly in their box – but occasionally I do get one out just to check the actual picture against my interpretation of the scanned sheet from the magazine. Again, it would be so easy just to put it straight away rather than just adding to the pile. Are you getting a theme here?
If I can keep up the sorting and tidying I am sure it will make me more productive. I could never ‘Kondo’ but I can certainly see the benefit of getting shot of some of the clutter in here. There are projects (with pattern and fabric at the ready) that I had totally forgotten about. It’s truly shameful. The client work is thinning out a bit – although there has been a tendency for some of my clients to come with a ‘shipping order’ now that they know that time is limited. That certainly wasn’t part of my plan!
If I can actually plan my sewing as an extra ‘client’ I am more likely to actually shift some of these. I have always said that I don’t have UFO’s – do these count? If they do I have LOADS of UFO’s! Oh dear.
As it has started to get colder here now I have started to dig out my jumpers. I do wear them during cool summer evenings rather than a coat, but as I am a fairly warm person they have been tucked away for a little while. Imagine then my horror when I got my lovely brown Larry out the other day and discovered a hole in it. Right in the centre of the front. No hiding that! It is a fairly neat hole so I wonder if I have actually cut one of the loops whilst I have been sewing and not noticed. I have checked all over and can’t find any more so I don’t think it’s moth. I loved this sweater but it had got a bit large (I have shrunk a bit but not too much so I think it has grown), and it was a pretty expensive Rowan yarn so I am thinking of pulling this out to re-knit. Kate from Fabrickated has been knitting lately, and seeing all of her posts relating to knitting has been making me want to start a new project so maybe I should concentrate on this.
Thankfully not everything has been working against me. My sourdough starter, from which I make bread and cakes, has been behaving beautifully. I may just be imagining it but I find sour dough bread easier to digest than store bought bread – maybe something to do with being allowed to take ages to go through the making process? Anyway, my loaves came out of the oven in fine shape, and since The Management wasn’t around I got first dibs on the still warm crust with butter. Delicious!
So, maybe I just need to be better organised and that darned Gremlin will move out!
I’m accepting a lot more invitations for days out these days, and yesterday was a real treat. I was in Birmingham (again) with a group of lovely ladies (and two honorary ladies for the day 😉 ) on a shopping and eating day organised by the lovely Demented Fairy. She had suggested in a comment that I wore Toni on our day out, and that seemed like an ideal opportunity to get some unbiased judgments on the dress.
The general opinion was positive – but we all agree that the ‘side bits’ on the dress are ‘corners not cowls’. I’m quoting directly there. One lady even noted the pattern details as she intends to make some for herself so it can’t have looked too bad. I did add sleeves to the basic pattern as I thought it would be more useful here in the UK in Autumn/Winter. Ruth did the same on her last incarnation at Core Couture which gave me the idea. I just used a basic rectangle the length I wanted and the width of the sleeve opening, narrowing it a bit at the wrist end. Not hard to do but makes the pattern even more useful to me. Sorry the scarf hides that wonderful neckline!
I was surprisingly comfortable all day, and after getting used to the feel of the dress on the back of my calves actually forgot about it! I really need to wear more dresses and skirts.
Anyway, the shopping!
Fairy bought some wonderful fabric and has plans for all of it already. Check out her account of the day and see her haul on her blog HERE . I
got off very lightly was very well behaved and only bought stuff I knew I needed for other projects. The lining is for my coat – how good is that match! The buttons were bought with assistance from Glenda. I wanted something ‘quality’ but that wouldn’t impose any rules on the coat and these were fabulous. Real metal, and only 60p each. The zippers were only £1 each and I intend to shorten some to fit the Ziggi jacket that has been in the queue for and eternity (or so it seems). The patterns weren’t really needed but there is a 1/2 price sale on Vogue patterns at the moment and I had been lusting after these for a while.
So I am a bit closer to having everything ready for the coat, I just need to settle on a design and get going once I have finished Nell.
I would love to tell you all that I had made seven shirts, multiple pairs of trousers, and three coats since I last reported but it would be a lie. I’m slowing down into autumn and enjoying every minute (apart from those spent sweeping up the leaves in my garden. Grrr) but that isn’t helping with progress. I have been working – but not too much for me – so read on McDuff.
My last post was almost three weeks ago, and I finished by saying I hoped to make quick progress with Nell. Erm…… no. I have cut the main fabric out and overlocked the edges to ensure that when I do eventually get round to any sewing I should still have seam allowances available to work with. As I said previously there was really not enough fabric in this piece to make Nell but I was determined to get it from this fabric. The pieces leftover are really small – no space for any mistakes here. I think that may have made me back off for a little while, but truthfully I can’t explain why I’m not further on. I have
decided that I would like this cape lined rather than just binding all the seams and have even managed to find a fabric from my seemingly bottomless stash that will do the job. I’m still pithering about a binding for the outsides. I have a fabric that wont fray so I may go with strips from that if I can’t find anything I like better.
I did cut out the Toni at the same time and decided to sew that together quickly (there really isn’t much to this project). I’m not entirely certain that I like my dress, although that may be down to my not wearing dresses very often rather than the style itself. I love Toni on other people so I suspect that my uncertainty is down to just not wearing dresses often enough. Perhaps I need to change that. Photographs at a later date with me wearing it but at the minute I am post insomia night and look like death so no chance.
In the gap between posts I had a wonderful day shopping in Birmingham with Naomi from a Facebook ‘Stashbusting’ group. Yes, I can see the problem there too – and as we both left Birmingham with a significant amount of fabric the stash was definitely blown not busted that day. Oh but look at what I bought!
The greeny yellow is a beautiful felted wool which I intend to make into a coat. As it was the end of the roll I got a very good deal on it. I was hesitating about buying such a distinctive colour, and more than a little concerned that it might not ‘go’ with my wardrobe. Can you believe that the colour works with just about everything I have put next to it? Far from not going with some things this colour works with everything! Naomi was searching for fabric to make an outfit for a costume party – that included sparkly stuff and I couldn’t help myself when I saw this brooch. Just look at how nice it looks on the grey fabric – and that ‘goes with everything’ green!
The brown fabric is a lovely single knit jersey which is a great weight for autumn/winter t-shirts and was a mere 50p a metre. Well, you couldn’t turn it down at that price could you? The stripe was the same but is a finer fabric. I haven’t got round to pre-washing these yet – and the stripe may well be simply tucked away for later use – but that brown needs to be used. Now. Well, after I make Nell and that coat….
No. not how long I expect them to last – the time it has taken me to knit these blessed socks.
I used my basic pattern, which is the Lacery sock pattern which was free fom Ravelry, but used the cabled pattern all over the sock from the Little Minx socks, also free from Ravelry. The last time I used the Little Minx pattern I realised it didn’t have increases on the instep but didn’t think it would matter. After using the socks for a while I decided that whilst I liked the cabling they were a bit tight over the foot to put on. Fine once they are on there but a bit of a struggle initially!
I was finished one sock for a good while before I got on with the second as this has been my ‘portable project’ for a while. Socks are great for a project that can move with you and doesn’t take up too much space. A night of insomnia got me back on track and once cast on they were on their way. It wasn’t until I had finished the second sock it still took a while) and was darning in the two loose threads (I love toe-up socks for this detail – only two threads to darn in on one colour socks) I spotted this! Damn! A dropped stitch from while I was working the heel. Fortunately it hadn’t run away when I turned the sock through so I was able to effect a repair whilst muttering and cursing.
I am now happy to report that I have another pair of hand knitted socks for myself, and very comfy they are too. They were knitted in Yarn Gardens sock yarn which had a bit of something called ‘stelina sparkle’ included which makes them a bit twinkly. I know from the last Yarn Garden yarn I knitted that these will have to be washed on their own for a good few times as the dye seems to weep for a number of washes but doesn’t seem to fade – no, I don’t know how either.
Something I hadn’t quite appreciated until I went to put the end of the yarn into the ‘leftovers bag’ was quite how much leftover sock yarn I have generated. I think I may have to knit a ‘two at once’ project and just make mad stripes to use some of this up.
So, any sewing Kim? Not as such. Lots of planning (I seem to spend more time planning my sewing than ever I do making things for me 😦 ), client work being kept steady – or even diminishing which is nice, and piles of PDF patterns printed out ready to get on with.
I stuck the Style Arc Toni pattern together a little while ago and decided that rather than spending the time tracing it from that I would just cut the pieces. Why didn’t I do that before? It is now sitting with the fabric I plan to make it in waiting for its turn. It was head of the list until I saw – Style Arc Nell.
This was love at first sight. I had flirted with the idea of a cape for quite some time but never taken the plunge. This just seemed to be exactly what I needed – and I knew exactly which fabric to make it in. A lovely raspberry fabric that had been lurking for some time. Oh, but would I end up looking a bit ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (even though there is no hood other than me). Re think. A lovely textured grey wool sprung to mind – even longer in the stash than the raspberry. Perfect. Except there is only 1.5m and the pattern says 2. Pants. I really liked the idea of this in the grey so I spent this afternoon sticking the pattern together before cutting it out and placing (breath held the whole time) on the ‘too small’ piece of grey fabric. It fits. Just. Two pieces are a fraction off grain which I would usually not tolerate but this time needs must.
The piece turned out to be only 145cm long and I think that had it been the full 1.5m I could possibly have managed to cut this on grain – sadly I will have to find something else to make the pockets from (or go without , but I can’t see that happening!) as the pocket pieces wont fit. Hopefully I will get this cut out and overlocked over the weekend. The fabric is so loosely woven that if I don’t protect the edges I am going to have fraying beyond the not very generous seam allowances.
Back with progress soon.I hope.
Before I went away to America I had a load of fabric in a pile hoping to make it up for summer. Clearly that didn’t happen – and some will certainly not cross into the autumn range even if used as a layering piece. Because in my absence autumn arrived to Bewdley. Yup. Full on. Crispy mornings, leaves changing colour, the house is now feeling distinctly cool. I swear it was warmer outside today but I suppose that shows it is well insulated!
I cleared a few of the more ‘urgent’ jobs from the heap for clients last week (it isn’t that big these days which is a joy!) before having a weekend in London. This weekend was primarily a visit to Ealing to my daughter but we were also able to visit the Tate for the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition. Well worth the time – and The Management said that he saw somewhere that there are none of her pictures on display elsewhere in the UK. None. We saw some in a gallery in Chicago so I knew I was going to enjoy this . The other reason for the visit was that I have been training for Ealing half marathon – and this was the weekend. Can I just say that I had a great time, and my daughter paced me all the way round beautifully! More info on my running blog if you want it.
Anyway, as a result of all of the running I have changed shape a bit – partly back towards my original blocks so it is mainly a good thing. The other good thing is that because most of my trousers and skirts are now too big in the waist I really need to either alter them (Boo!) or make new ones (Hurrah!).
Probably time to put away the fabric I got out for summer wear and go stash diving for what I need for the cooler weather. I always enjoy doing this as I inevitably find some fabric I had completely forgotten buying!
Have you changed to sewing for the next season yet?
Just in case anyone wondered why I took so long to answer comments on the last two posts I can now confess that they were scheduled to publish whilst I was away in New York and Chicago. I know – how lucky am I! But it gets even better!
I had visited New York in 2001 with my daughter but The Management wasn’t able to come with us which was sad. He really wanted to visit New York, but we also wanted to visit Chicago because several people had said it was their favourite city – after comments like that you have to find out what its all about don’t you?
Anyway, just in case I have offended anyone by not declaring I would be in New York I knew I was going to have very little free time (The Management had pre-planned lots to do!) and I had to campaign fairly hard to get to visit the garment district and fabric shops at all. Because time was going to be short I took lots of notes from the very useful information Shams posted about her recent trip. Thanks Shams, it was incredibly helpful! We did spend a couple of hours wandering (and buying lunch, coffees and such) and I had decided to be very disciplined and only go to Mood, and if I couldn’t find anything I wanted there (as if!) we would go to Spandex House. Can I mention here that I had run in Central Park first thing (at 25°C, and humid) so I probably wasn’t on top shopping form.
It was lovely to see the iconic ‘button’ on top of the information bureau (closed when we visited) and the sculpture of the garment district worker. I hadn’t realised that there was a fashion ‘Walk of Fame’ and was delighted to see one of my own favourites almost first off. Claire McCardell is just a genius in my opinion.
We arrived in Mood Fabrics (Squeak!) and navigated our way round the stacks – and can you believe The Management found some fabric he rather liked for a shirt! He is fabric shopping ahead of me! (It was rather lovely). I caught up soon enough and added a nice pin striped denim to the order. I could have bought any number of more opulent fabrics (check out those zebras!) but I wanted to buy something I would make up quickly and wear lots – and I probably wear jeans more than anything else so this was perfect. Sadly Swatch was nowhere to be seen (perhaps they allow him to take Saturdays off). I was able to have a quick look in the Mood ‘schoolroom’ and rather wished I would have been able to take a sewing course there. It really wouldn’t have mattered what!
We both came away very tired, but very happy with our purchases. I wonder whose will be made up first?
On Sunday we transferred to Chicago by train, his choice rather than mine but I loved it! Being able to cross the USA at a fairly stately pace whilst letting someone else deal with the driving was lovely. We were in the sleeping coach, so had beds rather than a reclining seat in the main carriage, so it was actually quite relaxing. I was looking forward to Chicago not only because of the fabulous architecture we were told to expect (and it is gorgeous), or the museums and galleries which could fill weeks rather than the few days we had, but because I have been nursing a wonderful secret. I was going to meet Rhonda Buss!
I can’t remember how long I have been tossing comments and e-mails with Rhonda but it’s a long time. I have made up some of her patterns, enjoyed her recipes, and follow closely if she recommends a book or designer as she has so many great suggestions. Her inspiration posts are magnificent – I’m very much looking forward to being able to incorporate some of the ideas into my work once I retire from client sewing. Anyway, if you aren’t already familiar with Rhondas blog I can’t recommend it strongly enough.
I contacted Rhonda way back at the beginning of the year to say I was going to be visiting, and if she had time would it be possible for her to give us a couple of hours for a locals tour of the city. She was so nice, and came back with an immediate ‘yes!’. When the time came she did that, but so much more than I had anticipated.
Yes, we got to see the city – but from her Cessna aeroplane! The Management has been interested in planes since he was a little boy and was thrilled to have been taken to the airport that the plane is kept at – I don’t think he would have been upset if we hadn’t even got off the ground. Far from that, Rhonda gave us a lovely flight along Lake Michigan with fabulous views of the city. We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in another airport before putting the plane to bed.
After that we were taken to a fabulous temple that TM had admired from the air – it was truly beautiful and very peaceful. Rhonda did recommend the gardens as being very pretty, which they were. We were then fortunate enough to be taken back to her home and introduced to Mr Buss and the dogs. Gracie welcomed us by charging round the garden at high speed whilst Little Bit was more restrained but no less delightful. It was a real privilege to meet the whole Buss family, and not one I had expected when I made my initial request. We enjoyed a drink and a chat before a real Chicago deep pan pizza. If you thought you had eaten one of these in the UK I have to tell you that you are sadly mistaken. This was absolutely wonderful! It’s probably just as well I don’t live in Chicago otherwise I would be twice the size.
Rhonda was featured in the latest issue of Sew News with her Ginger jeans,which she also did a blog post about. If I hadn’t made the Jeanius pattern that now serves me so well I would be trying that pattern for my Mood fabric.
We are home now with wonderful memories of a trip that would have been a good one, but turned out to be a great one as a result of meeting two wonderful people – whom I sincerely hope to meet again. Thank you again Rhonda and Mr Buss for giving myself and The Management such a day to remember!
It has been a little while since I knitted this but I found it whilst sorting my wardrobe and remembered that not only had I not blogged it but I had extra yarn which I meant to sell.
This pattern was bought from Ravelry, and whilst most of the versions shown were made in the recommended Rowan All Seasons Chunky there were others that looked very good in other yarns. I knitted this in the 3rd size, to give a bust size of 41.5″ to give a very little positive ease. The yarn was easy to knit with, but being very chunky was a bit challenging to join where needed.
My top took about 5.5 balls (so 6 needed was correct) and I’m not entirely certain what I had intended to make with this yarn originally but I have 4.5 balls left. This quantity is sufficient to make this top in the smallest size (Bust 33 1/4) which needs 4 balls, or possibly the next size (Bust 37 1/4″) which claims to need 5.
I will knit this top again as it is really comfortable, and as you can see from the photographs works well with and without a t-shirt underneath. I think it would look good in a slubby cotton to give a softer, less firm, garment. I could certainly reduce the hip increases for me when I make this again – I really have pathetic hips!
This yarn is selling on this site at £7.20 a ball on this site ( I think I paid about that when I bought it but can’t find the receipt). If anyone would be interested in buying this from me I would be happy to accept £15 (about 50% cost) + whatever it costs to post.
Let me know if you are interested.