Wednesday, 25 January 2017

White, grey, all the colours

WHITE: this box, its contents, and snow.

Me and daughter went to buy the box and its contents on a day when the city was covered in dirty slush. She spent the whole time wishing she lived in the countryside where the cold is prettier, much to the chagrin of me and her dad - we both escaped from rustic tedium as soon as we could, but does she appreciate the bright lights of the big smoke? Does she crap. Ah, the circle of generational resistance! She also filled my phone with random pictures in and from the shop. This view of the car park is the only one in focus.

The box and its contents cost almost 1400 euros. Well, I suppose the box was free. The contents are for my sister's wedding dress. Am I insane? Yes, probably. I have until 6 May.  A mock up has been done, and I only have about 4 pages of adjustments to make before the next one.

Good thing I asked for a whole bunch of tailoring and couture-appropriate sewing supplies for Christmas, really.  Here's hoping it all makes the wedding dress sewing a total breeze. That's likely, right?

GREY: January, my mood, some yarn.

The above was a grey afternoon earlier this month when I cut out an admittedly not-grey dress (an Elisalex, should you be interested) which I am now wearing, as I write. That fabric combined with my blue cardigan makes me feel a little like I'm in school uniform, which is not exactly lifting my spirits.You can hear the grey mood, can't you? I've basically been a total misanthrope for the last two months, December's final week of food, booze and chocolate excepted. I expect I'll cheer up soon. But it probably explains my growing addiction to Noro yarn.

The trick with Noro yarn is to always buy it on sale. Although unless you are very strong willed you will cancel out the savings by buying so much of it your cupboard is overflowing with the brightly-coloured nubbly stuff and you have no idea what you will do with it all.

I am not very strong willed.

For balance, I have combined this radiant rainbow of a skein - so the scarf is at least semi-sophisticated - with a contrasting solid colour. Yes, more grey.

But, see this next knitted thing: ALL THE COLOURS!

Yes, I do already have a (not-combined-with-grey) Noro scarf thing. Which is just as well, because above-mentioned daughter has already claimed the new one for when its done.

I like how the fringe on this one makes me feel like a hippy.

In other news, I have been investigating (i.e. buying supplies for) cross stitch. Because I need a new hobby like I need a hole in the head. But hey, variety is the spice of life - and totally not a "I'm scared of sewing a wedding dress" distraction!

*      *      *

I think I might be here more frequently, maybe, from now on. But less, well, I don't know - I might ramble and there might be less crafts. It's time... time to let some of the writing out...

I hope you are well, dear friends! Belated happy 2017! What are you working on to start your year?


Thursday, 24 November 2016

A year in the making: knitted Cline sweater

I have decided to be a grumpy old git for the month of November.

It's dark and boring. Everyone is hunkered down doing nothing much but waiting for the December madness to kick off, and to be frank I'm feeling a bit bah humbug about that too. I like Christmas and all - in fact, generally I love it - but for Christmas to go smoothly in a month's time means engaging my brain NOW about things like travel and gifts and recipes, and my brain does not wish to be engaged. It would like to hibernate. It is asking itself what the hell it was thinking in September when it decided to knit masses of presents and bought all the wool and then just looked at it for a long time, because the appearance of Git Me that does not want to knit to a deadline while procrastinating on the big food-related to-do list WAS INEVITABLE.

Thing is, I know very well what September brain was thinking. It was thinking: I AM A KNITTING WIZZZZAAARD(-ess?)!!!!

Because of this jumper.

This jumper took over a year of knitting. No, actually, that's not true: it took over a year to complete, in which time I also knit several other things, because the knitting of this jumper was at once overwhelming (it's knit in pieces! Even when you've finished knitting it, it's not done!!) and overwhelmingly tedious. (Stockinette. Knit flat. In four separate parts. Insert crying emoji here). It's also knit in about the scratchiest wool I could find - well, in any case, the scratchiest wool I have ever knit with. All in all, it was not a smooth sensory experience.

Basically, this jumper was the very definition of knitting for the product, not the process.  However. I knew, from well before I even cast on, that I would love the product.  And the reason September brain was feeling so exuberant about its knit skillz is because I was right - all that hard work (ok, "hard work") finally paid off. I DO love it! 

There are people who don't like wearing scratchy wool.  There are people who think that a baggy gray jumper is too tedious to wear, let alone make (my mum helpfully voiced this opinion repeatedly). There are people who think dolman sleeves are the opposite of an interesting design feature.

I am not any of those people. And this piece of knitwear fits predictably, perfectly well into my weekend uniform of (skinny) jeans and (oversized) sweater. 

See? I'm smiling. (This picture was taken before November).


  • My notes on ravelry here

So, my northern hemisphere friends, how are you coping with the decreasing daylight? Any tips for me? Just no-one say hygge, ok.  And southern hemisphere friends - NO WAIT  DON'T TELL ME I DON'T EVEN WANT TO KNOW.

Er, sorry. I'll probably be in a better mood next time...


Thursday, 27 October 2016

La Maison Victor: Fran dress

You know a dress is a winner when you wear it to work on your birthday and two separate people ask if you're pregnant when you're most definitely not.

Yeah. That happened.

Fortunately, I have now officially reached the age of Give No Sh*ts (see also: pink hair; tattoo). Turns out that people find it extra doubly embarrassing when you refuse to be embarrassed by their embarrassing remark - and friends, I must admit that I found it just ever so slightly EXTREMELY satisfying to see them squirm.

Plus, besides the Giving of No Sh*ts, I had fashion on my side. OVERSIZED IS A THING! And why should those of us who know that be cowed by the maternity assumptions of those who don't?!! It's hella wide and gloriously comfortable!

So, reasons why this is a brilliant dress:

1. Shape: on trend! (Probably. Right? I don't really care anyway!)

2. Fabric: viscose! FABRIC OF THE GODS. Light and flowy and warm YES PLEASE THANK YOU, especially for only 6 euros/metre (Brusselites, get yourselves to Berger, they currently have it in various prints).

3. Fit: nailed! You'd think a loose dress like this doesn't need much fitting, but it's absolutely got to hang right or it really will resemble a maternity outfit. I started with my high bust measurement, traced off the corresponding size and then...
  • Added a dart. Much as I love the dartless FBA, given that I was adding 2" width to a woven bodice, I wanted more precision. I used the paper pattern piece to locate my bust point and determine where/how long I wanted it, and I must say it turned out perfect. You'd hardly know it's there. STEALTH DART!
  • Lengthened the bodice centre front by 1", i.e. also more room for the boobs.
  • Shortened the bodice centre back by 1", i.e. swayback adjustment.
  • Did a 1cm forward shoulder adjustment and...
  • ... a 0.5cm narrow shoulder adjustment.

Guys, this dress fits so well it actually feels weird! I have NEVER before worn a dress that didn't constantly need to be pulled forward, and where the sleeves sit perfectly on the edge of my shoulders. Or a dress with a gathered rectangle skirt that didn't ride up in front and hang low at the back. The whole thing just stays put where it is, from the moment I put it on. It's like a whole new way to wear clothes! And it's incredible what a difference this all makes to how flattering it is ("when's it due" questions aside). It is far superior to my Lucie dress - which is very much the same shape and concept, but infinitely less wearable because I didn't make the same adjustments.

Yep. That's my face for "I Officially Love This Dress".

Almost as much as I Officially Love Biscuits And Cake.

OK actually maybe I can understand the pregnancy comments after all.

(Pattern: Fran dress, La Maison Victor, 3rd edition 2016. Slight hang-ups about other people's opinions: model's own)


Monday, 12 September 2016

Closet Case Files Sallie

Helloooooo! How are you all? I hope you've been having nice summers/winters, depending on  your hemisphere.  My summer's been spiffing, thank you very much - a laid back July at work, the kids happily employed at various sport camps, then off to Germany and Slovenia for plenty of fresh air and beautiful landscapes, all rounded off with a weekend of festival fun in the UK. And now, here I am, just hanging out in the garden at home.

Hanging out! Geddit?!! Y'know, the swing...? Yeah, ok. Moving swiftly on.

So, I made a dress. And I'm going to tell you about it even though the photos of it are so glaringly bright as to make the details indistinguishable. Better than no photos, eh? Just shield your eyes from my blindingly radiant bosom.

The pattern is no doubt recognisable to most readers as the Sallie jumpsuit/dress by Closet Case Files. As you can see, I combined the kimono-sleeved bodice of view A with the maxi skirt of view B.

The pattern pieces for the bodice front and back are actually identical, which - though I have no doubt it works fine for many - I decided on first sight to ignore, because boobs. I traced off separate front and back pieces, tracing the neckline and shoulder according to the size for my high bust (I can't remember which size it was, sorry) and then having the kimono sleeve meet the side seam two sizes up, corresponding to my full bust and waist measurements. So basically a lazy fudge rather than a full bust adjustment.

Then, I knew I wanted a more blousy effect to the bodice than it is as drafted, so I added 2 inches in length all round the bodice - and then an extra inch at the centre front to complete my cheater FBA. In the end, I also decided to curve the back waist seam back upwards about an inch in the middle - and as you can see above, it's a good thing I did, because there's still plenty of fabric pooling in the small of my back as it is. Yep, swayback adjustments basically happening systematically here these days.

Do you too ever feel like sewing is like one long voyage of discovering new and previously unimagined fit adjustments? I do. As soon as my eye is fully trained to spot one issue and my brain and hands capable of correcting it, I notice something else. Like the monkey mind will get bored if it has no more new fit issues to agonise over. Ugh!

Anyway, once I was done with the bodice adjustments, sewing this up was a dream. The fabric was ordered from the lovely Maeve during a sale a couple of months ago, and has just the right weight for both easy sewing and wearing. I lined the bodice with some plain white viscose jersey as I didn't fancy trying to line stripes up on the inside too (the green would have shown through to the right side). I also added a knee-length lining to the skirt, which isn't in the pattern. It ends just above the slits in the skirt, and keeps things skimming smoothly over all the lumps and bumps and potential VPL in the tum/bum areas. I do have some slight neckline gaping on one side of the neck, but I think it might be down to a hollow-ish chest on my smaller-boob side rather than having stretched out the fabric (I reinforced it immediately after cutting). And the lining peeks out sometimes from one of the sleeves, which would no doubt not happen if I ironed it, but no. Not ironing it.

And in terms of wearing, well you've heard it from plenty of bloggers before: this dress is fabulously comfy and easy to wear. You just chuck it on and you're fully clothed, relatively stylish, and you get to swish around in a maxi feeling all fab. Those slits in the skirt are seriously good! I've got to say, I'm really impressed with the Closet Case patterns - I've made a couple this summer and have basically lived in them (more on the other soon!). The styles are great, the drafting spot on, and the sewing hits that sweet spot where challenging meets fun and they do a little happy dance together. I really enjoyed listening to Heather on Seamwork radio where she talks a bit about how she aims to pitch her patterns, in terms of both the styles and the sewing, and I think she's hitting it exactly on the head.

OK, I've been hesitating about asking this final question, but I'm just going to do it.  See when bodices have cut on kimono sleeves, like this pattern or, say, By Hand London's Anna dress. Do you find that the armpits get rather rapidly sweaty, compared to other 'normal' sleeves? Or do I just need to attempt lowering the armhole a bit??

And why is it that my right armpit apparently sweats more than the left one (I swear it!)? Am I a freak of nature???


Thursday, 9 June 2016

Baggy trousers

Part of the reason I sew is to push the boundaries of what I think I'll wear. Dungarees, dungashorts, pinafore dresses, oversized harem pant/skirt hybrids, massive Japanese drapey sleeves, novelty print Christmas dresses (respectively here, here, here, here, here and here)...

... and today we add to that list - baggy trousers!

It just adds to the sense of adventure: not only am I making it up myself, instead of wearing what a shop says I should, I'm also not very sure what the hell kind of look I'm going to end up with anyway. I like to keep my sense of (fashion) self on its toes, apparently.

So yes, baggy trousers. When I saw Marilla Walker's Mercury collection, I pretty instantly decided it wasn't for me - and it remains highly unlikely you (or anyone else) will ever see me wearing palazzo pants à la view C. But a little while after the pattern's release, I took a closer look at the pleated cuff of view D, and, well, you know how it goes - I was intrigued and got sucked in.

Turns out, I am now in fact a baggy trouser-wearer.

(Plus another Linden top, these things have multiplied through my wardrobe like nobody's business).

I really like these trousers. The cropped length is flattering and makes me feel a bit stylish for once, and the ankle pleats are just cool. My fabric is a nice fluid-but-not-too-lightweight viscose/linen mix, which means everything hangs beautifully. But herein lies my little dilemma with these (and incidentally, with my rockbuex too).  As Liesl points out in her wide-leg style file, trousers like this are generally designed to sit on the natural waist for best draping effect - and unfortunately, I'm just not really a high waist waistband wearer, even when they're elasticated. It's proportionally the thickest part of my body, and I'm long-waisted too, so all my life I've worn everything I possibly can further down towards my hips. Which in this case just doesn't work: the whole effect is ruined and en plus it's supremely unflattering.

So I'm getting used to it. Partly a simple matter of habit, and partly a question of pairing these trousers with tops more cropped than I've generally worn (I have a pile of t-shirt hems to shorten this weekend!) And the more used to it I get, the comfier these trousers become.

Make no mistake. These trousers are COMFY.

In an effort to illustrate this somehow, I took inspiration from Gillian and did some sitting pics. Not sure the coffee-drinking pose is that successful though tbh.

Here I clearly demonstrate how attempting to look casual and relaxed actually has the opposite effect.

How's this? And by the way - what do you think of the bench?? Husband and daughter ordered it on a whim in February, having fallen victim to the charms of some random catalogue that arrived with the post. It's a bench WITH A POP UP TABLE FOR DRINKS. Yegads life is so exciting as a garden furniture consumer these days, isn't it? What will they think of next?? Now all we need is some summer. Oh and an end to the permanent building works. Because after 10 years in our house it would be nice for most corners of our outdoor space to not still look like this:

But those pleats tho.

With bonus cat hair. Esmerelda says you're welcome.

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