I can sew a rainbow

img_2684It’s the eighth week since lockdown began and, true to the “slow sewing” bit of my blog’s strapline, I’ve finally finished four sets of scrubs which I’ll deliver this morning to the Royal Hospital for Neurodisability in Wandsworth. The hospital sent a message to my place of work just as we were all shutting down, asking if anyone would be able to make some scrubs for them – and while it’s taken a lot longer than it should have, I’m very pleased to have now got a batch ready to deliver.

img_2782The hospital’s email had suggested a pattern – one produced by PDF patterns boutique and imaginatively entitled ‘Classic doctor’s scrubs for men’. The important bit was that they are/were being printed by Blue Sky Printing at cost – so for only a few pounds and in only a few days the printed pattern and instructions were at my door. Similarly Fabricland were prioritising orders for people supporting the NHS through sewing, and so about a week later I had 15m of blue cotton which I was washing and ironing – on a beautifully warm and sunny day over Easter (obviously). And it turns out that ironing 15m of anything takes a pretty long time.

I was so proud that the whole family pitched in with this one – husband on cutting out, eldest daughter as my co-sewist, youngest daughter on ironing the interfacing – and middle daughter on embroidery. Embroidery is her new lockdown hobby, and it’s pretty gorgeous if I do say so in a proud-mum way.

We were aiming for six sets of scrubs, but while we have six tops assembled, we’re out of fabric for the trousers for the last two sets. I’ve recently had a duvet cover donated that might work, but if not I’ll order a little more fabric and get the last two pairs of trousers done as soon as I can.

So, other than a sense of being able to do something that’s useful at this time of national stasis, there are a few sewing things that I learned from all of this.

Firstly, sewing anything four (or six) times really does build your skills up in a way that sewing lots of different things doesn’t. You can feel yourself adapting as you go and using the knowledge of only a few minutes before to improve the next seam/line/pressing etc. It’s pretty dull work though and tiring – you don’t get the same sense of progress when you sew the same things six times over and that takes a bit of adjusting to.

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Secondly, while I knew that my eldest daughter would sew along with me (she’s off to study costume design this September if the world gets itself a little more settled, and has amazing design and construction skills), I hadn’t anticipated how much more you can get done when you have a whole family of willing helpers. I wouldn’t have dreamed of adding embroidery – and if it were a requirement, frankly the hospital would have been waiting a lot longer for a far poorer result. My husband was happy chopping cotton, and even my ten year old was keen to help – not just with appropriate signage, but with specific tasks like applying interfacing. It’s been a really lovely team effort.

img_2783Thirdly, instructions for this pattern were sparse to say the least – but that’s OK. I’ve not used this type of pattern before, and  it was effectively diagrams with the odd note. Not what I’m used to (spoiled by the step-by-step hand-holding of most indie patterns these days) but actually sufficient. The garments being made were not fitted, and were basic and simple. I wouldn’t opt for this kind of instruction for anything more complicated – but it gave me taste of how sewing was in the past (vintage patterns have very little guidance) and how some of those more experienced dressmakers can ignore a pattern’s text and just read the pieces based on their own experience.

I suppose finally, it’s been good to have something that I have felt in some way obliged to sew during these bizarre and difficult times. My sew-jo up and left at the beginning of all this, and the hoodie dress I cut out in March is still unconstructed. Having this (slow) project going on has kept me sewing even when the impetus has left and I’m in awe of people who have done so much more. My friend at work ordered 30m of fabric in the first wave of this, organised her street to do construction and then between them they’ve crowd-funded for more fabric and collaborated to do loads more. Respect.

Right now, I just find it hard to be creative in the same way as usual – I’m learning to crochet and am working on a blanket that will probably take the rest of my days. It’s simple, repetitive and quite contained – and that’s working for me right now. I’m looking forward to when my excitement about sewing gets back to its usual levels – and I don’t doubt it’s out there – like everything to do with lockdown, it’s just a matter of waiting.

Tea finished and the sun is up (sleep has also been elusive of late), so I’ll finish this post now and get ready to deliver to the hospital on my way to work. Stay safe everyone.

 

Kimono – in praise of the V and A

With a casualness that belongs to another time (was it only a matter of weeks ago?), I went to the V&A. In general I don’t feel like I take enough advantage of the range of available culture that living just outside London offers me. The V&A is different though: it’s my favourite museum by a long mile, its exhibitions are fascinating and beautiful, and being a member means that I can saunter in and skip the long queues that build up. I just love it.

The current (is it current when the whole place is closed?) exhibition celebrates the art, construction and beauty of the kimono. The pieces we saw during our visit demonstrated the simple structure of the garments, set against the breathtaking artistry of the embroidery, intricate resist-dye techniques and weaving. The exhibition moved from the history into recent designer pieces that have been inspired by kimono – from Alexander McQueen to Star Wars.

Soon after our visit, the museum closed and then London closed – and while I’m very lucky in my home and my lovely cohabitants, it’s a very odd feeling. Part of me longs to sew and be creative, but at the same time I don’t. I don’t feel I need that quiet solace that I get from sewing when everything is so … contained.

img_2574It made me think back to that exhibition and draw some probably-stretching-a-point parallels with the life we’re living right now. The simple structure of one place to be in, with no variation and no urgency (or option) to be anywhere else – well maybe that’s the simple structure of the kimono. We can make it beautiful with decoration – but the simple shape is already everything that’s needed. Maybe the need for embroidery comes later.

On that basis my isolation sewing is not going to be very adventurous. I’m planning a Stella hoodie dress from the TATB Stretch book – because I need comfy clothes to lounge around in.

I guess I really ought to say that I’m going to learn to resist dye with rice paste (seriously mind-blowing skills), focus on intricate and detailed embroidery or learn new weaving techniques – but actually I’m going to keep things simple and be calm.

I’m very pleased that I had the chance to see this beautiful exhibition when I did – and when normal 2.0 is installed, I hope I never again take for granted how lucky I am to be able to experience such amazing art.

Cielo – a heavenly project

img_2525The Italian translation of cielo is the sky or heavens. The meaning in Spanish is the same (due to the shared Latin root – caelum) but that doesn’t seem as relevant because this is a review of a pattern from the Closet Case Patterns Rome collection. Anyway the obvious pun works just fine here, because this really is a pretty heavenly pattern.img_2455

The only Closet Case pattern that I’ve made before is the Bombshell swimsuit. That was one of those projects that I made about four years ago – when I knew I didn’t have the skills to accomplish it but figured “to hell with it” and just gave it a go. My swimsuit is far from perfect, but I wear it still and I love it. It’s a brilliant pattern.

I don’t know why I’ve not made some of the rest of the CCP catalogue. It’s not that I don’t constantly drool over them. The Clare coat, the Morgan jeans, the Charlie kaftan and the rest of the Rome collection have been on my mental ‘to make’ list forever a long time. When the Rome collection was published last year I was keen – but as ever, there are just so many things to make <ooh shiny thing>.

img_2513So what finally got me there? It was the pouffy sleeves of the Cielo that took me across the line with this one. They looked fabulous in the line drawing, kept popping up in different blogs that I follow, and seemed even better in the Instagram selection that I researched. And now that I have those sleeves to waft around in for myself, it’s hard to imagine wanting to wear anything else!

img_2447The fabric and the pattern were both purchased at the Stitch Festival last weekend. I bought the pattern from Sew Me Something – and I really have no memory of where the fabric came from. There were so many stalls – so much wonderful fabric – and I was like a child in a sweet shop. What a dangerously lovely day! I ended up buying far too much fabric, all prints despite a firm commitment going in to only buy solids, and for the most part, no clear idea of what they would become.

This piece was different though – I had my pattern already purchased, and the moment I handled it, I knew she would be my first Cielo. The fabric is a light, very drapey viscose (at a guess – I’m rubbish at identifying fabric types). It doesn’t hate or particularly welcome an iron, and feels like it will be dry a few minutes after it’s been washed (fingers crossed, with little ironing required – in which case it will definitely be my favourite thing ever).

The steps of construction were straightforward, with nothing particularly tricky. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t blunder my way through it though. I traced the pattern pieces on Friday evening, while waiting until the right time of the morning to be my eldest daughter’s taxi service back from a club. I was quite happy spending that quiet time tracing – and only realised that when pretty tired I should probably have triple checked my work when I realised that half the lower sleeve had been traced on to the worktop, not the paper.

img_2454Next I managed to cut out one of my huge sleeve heads with fabric that had a hidden cut out – you know when you fold it and you’re sure that you know where the lower fabric edge runs, but there’s one bit that’s cut out? That was me. And it was right in the middle of the sleeve head. It’s such an enormous pattern piece that I didn’t want to just recut the piece (it would have been so wasteful), so instead I recut the top of the piece about 3cm down, to lose the chunk that was missing – I knew that it would make the sleeve a bit shorter, and possibly slightly less pouffy, but as the cost was only about 2cm across the gathered section, I decided it was the best way forwards.

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Let’s reflect that this is a bleached photo with the flash …

The final mistake was in using black thread for my gathering stitches – seriously, am I a complete amateur? My eyesight (or lack of it) is hilarious to my children, but still I thought it best to put in gathering stitches that were black thread on a black background – and which I really could barely see.

And yet, despite these errors – you know I just really loved making this top. It’s not just because I could see she was a lovely thing as I was making her – but also because the pattern was really well put together, easy to follow and fun. I had to walk down to our local sewing shop (Sweet Seams) to get some more black thread mid afternoon on Saturday, and I realised I was walking along with a big grin on my face – because I was in the middle of a really lovely sewing day. And let’s just celebrate the fact that I went into the shop, bought the thread and nothing else, and left again. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.

Learning points – well the obvious ones would be to avoid all the errors above in my next Cielo with careful cutting/measuring, using a contrast colour for the running stitches and so on.

One thing I adapted in the pattern was the length – when I’d finished but not hemmed the top I tried it on, and it was really as short as I wanted it to be – perhaps too short already. I therefore cut a 2 inch band and added it to the bottom. I really like this – both the finish and the length on me – and perhaps just the fact that I had to lengthen something! At 5’2″, that doesn’t happen very often.

So one of my Stitch Festival fabrics sewn, and I’m really happy with it. What will be next??

Time trial: Tabitha Drawstring Dress

I’ve wittered on before about being a slow sewist – but in fairness that’s been an assumption on my part until now. I generally sew alone (sewing weekends notwithstanding), so my points of reference tend to be contestants on the Sewing Bee, Next in Fashion, Project Runway etc. So in reality, I had no proof that I was slower than your average dressmaker. Until now.

I was always going to buy Tilly’s new book ‘Make It Simple‘ – I’ve got her other two books, lots of her standalone patterns and I really like her style. Not everything works for me, but her size 4 measurements rarely need much adjustment for my frame, and I end up with garments that I feel fit really well. The premise of the new book being “easy, speedy sewing projects to stitch up in an afternoon” sounded too good to be true.

Back from a lovely holiday in Bruges, I curled up last weekend with the book and picked the Drawstring Dress (based on the Tabitha t-shirt pattern) as my first project. I had some lovely bluey/lilacy t-shirt fabric (no idea of its provenance) that needed a purpose, and everything else was in my stash. I had a lovely Sunday project ahead of me.

So, I decided to do a time trial. Tilly’s optimistic predictions were:

  • Cutting time (including drafting the skirt): 45 minutes
  • Sewing time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Let’s see how we got on …

9:50   Assemble tools, make coffee (an essential part of all sewing) and clear down breakfasty remains adhering to all kitchen surfaces.

img_235010:01 Start tracing pattern pieces in size 4.

10:55 Tracing complete and paper pattern pieces cut out. Skirt piece drafted (some head scratching as ‘place on fold’ instruction in diagram appears to be on wrong side).

10:55 Break to sort laundry and dishwasher. Make second pot of coffee.

11:10 Iron fabric and try to get the piece folded on grain.

11:20 Start cutting out pattern pieces in the fabric.

11:57 All cut out; break for more coffee and crumpet.

img_235112:04 Find eyelet kit and a scrap piece of fabric to test it on – not inserted an eyelet before.

12:08 Finally manage to open the pack (staring at you Hemline packaging).

12:26 Eyelets fitted. Kitchen island slightly dented. Feel I have a (slightly wonky) new superpower involving a crazed woman with a hammer. Another laundry break.

12:32 Cut drawstring from a dark navy piece of ponte di roma jersey that will contrast well with the lilac jersey.

12:40 Break for family stuff – homework, snacks and conversations.

1:05 Stabilize shoulders and stitch together. Take a gamble on neckband – I haven’t got any ribbing in a suitable colour, and I have no patience to wait until I can source some. I cut the piece in the main fabric, on the basis that it’s pretty stretchy.

1:35 Neckband attached – ok, not perfect but quite near – certainly not redoing it. Now for the sleeves.

img_23581:56 Sleeves in: time for lunch.

2:33 Lunch done – onto sewing the side seams.

2:48 Side seams sewn and quick try on confirms it’s all ok and the neckband gamble paid off. Now for the skirt side seams.

3:02 Break for words of encouragement, frustration and weeping (aka helping my youngest with her homework).

3:09 Fractions sorted. Back to attaching the bodice to the skirt.

img_23593:27 Bodice attached but with too wide a seam allowance – so the eyelets are now in the wrong place. Seam rip (bonus of using beautiful new seam ripper, gift from a lovely sewing friend from work) …

3:42 Easily distracted and bored while seam ripping – bit of time out to book tickets for next weekend’s Stitch Festival.

3:56 Back to seam ripping.

4:05 All ripped. Joining bodice to skirt #2 …

4:30 Bodice and skirt joined. Casing for drawstring sewn.

img_23604:35 Drawstring fail. Fabric not thin enough to roll into a tube so now sewing it together and turning it through – dullsville.

5:46 This long to turn through one drawstring! Albeit while helping youngest daughter to focus on her English homework but that didn’t slow me down – it’s just a slow and tedious job.

5:59 Drawstring inserted and eyelets promptly fell out. Think this fabric is just too stretchy? Either way the drawstring seems to be working still. But now I’ve tried it on, and sadly I’m not feeling it. Looks a bit sackish. Maybe I need a bit of distance from it. Now I’m in a bad mood with the whole enterprise.

6:43 Finally hemmed (obviously with the bobbin running out 20 cm before the end, because it’s turning into that kind of project) and on the dress form. Definitely a sack.

So start to finish for me was just under 8 hours. Slow sewing indeed. However let’s do the sums properly – excluding all moments of error, distraction, refreshments, laundry and tracing the initial pattern pieces (as I wouldn’t need to do that again). My back-of-an-envelope calculations put my final tally at about 4.5 hours – assuming that next time around I wouldn’t re-trace my fabric, I’d join the bodice accurately, and I’d manage to use fabric for the drawstring that would actually form a tube.

img_2431Sooo – rather higher than the 3 hours and 5 minutes estimate from Tilly – but as we can see, when bearing in mind the reality of my life, expertise and general approach to sewing I should sensibly double all future estimates! And you know, that’s really fine – sewing isn’t something I do in batch (as a rule – the six pairs of PJ trousers I recently made for a girls’ trip away with my old university friends was a definite exception) or to a schedule. I sew because I love sewing. My output may not be great, but I enjoy every (OK, almost all of the) minute(s).

In terms of this pattern – well I’m still not sure. When I put it on later for these photos, I didn’t feel half as negative about it as I did at the end of its construction. I think mostly I needed to reposition it in my mind – not a dress for work, it turns out, but one that I could wear to kick about in at home, at the weekend or in the holidays. It’s a nice relaxed outfit – and in a different fabric might feel a bit dressier.

Will I make it again? I’m not sure right now – at a guess, no, because there are So Many Other Patterns (new patented acronym #SMOP: you’re welcome). But when we have slightly sunnier weather and I’m likely to leave the house without wearing all of my warmest clothes, let’s see how wearable this one is.

I do know, at any rate, that if I do it’ll take me about four and a half hours….

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Sewing the precious

img_2385I’m a slow sewist but that doesn’t mean that I have a perfectionist attitude to my sewing: basically I’m just slow. I’ve been sewing for six years now and while I’ve learned a hell of a lot about making garments in that time, this is very much a hobby for me. I’m definitely better than I was, but this is a journey without a destination in mind – so there’s no route map either.

Maybe for those reasons, the Sewcialists’ challenge to ‘sew the precious’ earlier this year really resonated with me. When you know you’re not really ready to sew the good fabrics, you put them aside nervously until you feel ready. And then you don’t ever feel ready.

The fabric was one I bought a year ago – just after my fantastic class at Sewoverit, learning to sew the Francine jacket. I said firmly to my husband then that I would need to sew another jacket immediately, to cement the skills I’d learned. I went off to Fabrics Galore one lunchtime and bought the very last of some lovely black wool – with enough structure to make a jacket work, but still with enough drape to hang nicely.

Clearly, without the discipline (reassurance/confidence etc) of Julie and the rest of the class, my beautiful wool (and the dark red lining I’d also picked up) sat for the rest of the year in my stash. I thought it was time to give it a purpose. Obviously not its original purpose. Because: me.

img_2345After a small item that I wrote was published in the Maker’s Atelier magazine last year, Frances said thank you by letting me choose any of her patterns – and after much indecision (they are all lovely) I was drawn to the Swing Jacket. I loved the simple lines and felt that the styling with a classic pencil skirt would be something I’d definitely wear to work.

The next thing I did was an absolute first for me: I made a toile! Every single book, blog, expert, course or TV show that I’ve watched/read etc has extolled the virtue of making a toile. Testing out a pattern on muslin fabric, practising construction, checking fit, making adjustments – these are all excellent reasons for taking the time and trouble to make a toile. At the same time, in a sustainable sewing world, it feels awfully frivolous to waste enough fabric to make a trial garment. It also feels to me like a waste of time – when I feel like I have never-enough-sewing-time as it is, to spend some of it on a tester garment feels wrong somehow. These are my reasons – laziness and impatience with a side order of planet saving/stinginess. That’s set alongside a body that conforms to most patterns – only really requiring the use of the shortening lines for most pattern adjustments to get a decent fit – so the impetus to toile is reduced again.

img_2055So this time was a first for me. I cut the main pieces in some old heavy black cotton from my stash. I stitched them together by hand – and actually really enjoyed that part of the process. You know when you read instructions, but it isn’t until you’ve made the thing that it makes sense? Well somehow that’s a lot clearer if you’re sewing by hand and not just feeding fabric into a machine.

So having made the toile what were my earth-shattering revelations? Yup, I liked it and would go ahead with my wool. No adjustments required that were obvious. (Let’s come back to this point later.)

So, on with the show. I cut the pieces, and followed the instructions that Frances had helpfully posted on her blog about constructing a lining for the jacket. Having already made it once, it was quite straightforward to make both the woollen and lining versions of the ‘real’ thing. The wool was beautiful to work with – taking an iron in precisely the way that the lining fabric refused to.

In Frances’ post, the suggestion was to leave the unhemmed jacket and lining hanging for a few days – which in my world means until the next weekend at the earliest. It meant the fabric had time to drop – and also gave me time to scowl at it every time I went past my dress form.

And this is the bit where I refer back to what I learned and didn’t learn from my nice toile. A sample piece isn’t a finished garment. It hangs differently and the fabric is (by necessity) a lot – well, cheaper. It wasn’t lined, which again changes the way it fits. Basically it just wasn’t the same.

Now it was nearly done and I’d lived with the nearly-finished coat in my kitchen for a week, I decided that it actually needed to be quite a bit shorter to look right on me. (I know, back to the lengthen(never!)/shorten lines again.) Clearly I was still able to do this because I’d not hemmed the thing yet, but I also ended up cutting off and wasting a quite wide strip of expensive wool fabric, when I was desperately trying to squeeze a pencil skirt out of the remainder.

As well as being a slow sewist, I’m turning into a slow blogger too. I finished the jacket two weeks ago and have worn it to work several times since then. I’ve had complements which is nice – and it does feel like something that is very me. I’m a little irritated that I didn’t trim the excess fabric enough at the front edge hem – it feels bulky there to me, but I’m guessing that not many people would notice though it’s glaring to me. It’s more irritating because I wanted this one to be special, and it’s a note that jars – you know. But I’m not irritated enough to unpick the hem and redo it, so it’ll have to be something I learn to love.

So for the swing jacket – it’s a great, simple and stylish pattern that sews up quickly. If you’re drawn to that kind of shape I’d definitely recommend it. And personally I think the lining really adds something too and is straightforward to make.

For toiles – yep, I’m not yet convinced. In a world short on resources and a life short on time, I think I’ll carry on trying things out carefully, fitting as I go, measuring carefully (me and the garment pieces!) and just going for it. But in future I’ll try and stop saving the precious – it didn’t do Gollum any good after all.

Sewing gifts

Much of my sewing time in November and December was spent creating presents for the people I love. If I didn’t love them, I sure as hell wouldn’t be sewing for them, because as I’ve said before, I’m a selfish sewist at heart.

Through December there was not much I could write about here, in the vain hope that some of my loved ones read this blog. However, it’s now January and the Christmas period is behind us so I can do a quick summary.

Having seen some lovely examples created by others, I had decided that a Skye Wrap from Coolcrafting would be just right for my mother in law. However, I made an early version of it as an emergency gift for my own mum when she fell and broke her wrist early in December. Figuring that coats would be trickier to manage one-handed, I decided to make it for mum as the perfect way to let her know that we love her.img_1810

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Youngest daughter (and sous-sewist) and I headed off to the Fabrics Galore store in Kingston. We had some lovely tweeds and cotton lawns to choose from, and eventually picked a warm lilac tweed. The lawn we chose (and which I can’t now find on the FG website) feels reminiscent of the Tolkien pictures of the Lonely Mountain in the Hobbit – so, if you like, we can say that was the reason for the choice, as my mum introduced me to Middle Earth in my formative years, and I’m now doing the same with Tilly. In fairness though, I only made that connection after I’d chosen it, and really just liked the print and the way it worked with the tweed.

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The longest part of the preparation was hand washing the two fabrics and letting them dry. The rest is very straightforward and so a perfect pattern for a Christmas present. You’ll get much more credit for the effort made than is fair at all.

On that basis, I was confident to make a second wrap for my mother in law as planned – but this time decided to use a green velvet for the lining fabric (again from Fabrics Galore, from their larger Battersea store near my work). I wanted it to be a little warmer for her, and to feel luxurious on the inside. She was very pleased, but as she’s not the type to want a picture on the internet anywhere, you’ll have to take my word for it and that of Rosa (my tailor’s dummy).

I made two lots of pyjamas to send to my lovely nieces in Spain. I followed the same formula as the version I made Tilly (Simplicity 8022 trousers with TATB Stella hoodie -sans sleeves because it’s hot hot hot in Spain). I had to guess at the relative sizes and leg lengths, but they did apparently fit well. At least, they’re pyjamas, so unless they’re proper ankle-flappers, most people don’t worry too much and my niece Lara is more than capable of adjusting them quietly without fuss!

My other sewing activity has perhaps been more unusual – I find it surprising, particularly within a community that loves fabric and is so focused on sustainability, that more people don’t seem to use fabric as wrapping. I’ve worked on a range of different shapes, patterns if you like, over the years for this – but mostly I simply hem or even just overlock large rectangles of my favourite fabric offcuts, and then use them to wrap presents. You can secure the fabric with ribbon quite successfully if the present itself is rigid, but otherwise you can usually use Sellotape if you really need to. I prefer to get creative with the ribbon.

The best part is clearly the fact that there’s no paper (or plasticated paper or glitter or other less sustainable options) to be wasted. A shake out and you can fold your wrap to go back in the drawer and you’re all set for the next birthday etc.

So, do you fabric-wrap? What have you made this Christmas?

The bigger on the inside skirt

img_1988.jpgBecause at this time of year, we all need one of those, right?

I felt very noble this Christmas, sacrificing taking my sewing machine away with us over the break. Aside from a lack of space in the car, I knew I’d spend more time actually interacting with the people I was there to see if I wasn’t able to hear my Janome’s siren call. As I said, noble right?

When I got back however, all bets were off. I wanted a quick and satisfying project – nothing fiddly, something entirely from my stash and which I could make and then wear that day. I may not have dressed until the evening (about 7pm), but it was in my new stripy skirt and I’m very pleased with it. [I also dressed in order to head out with my family to watch the new Little Women film, which was an absolute treat – double win.]

The pattern was New Look K6035, one of those useful, practical sets that give you a lot of value (jacket, skirt, sleeveless top and trousers) if you ever actually use them. I was clearly making the skirt (D) and based on my measurements I cut the largest size (16). I could probably have come down one or two sizes but l wanted to have the excess material to fit with.img_1979.jpg

 

The material is a black wool with irregular brown – I don’t know, would you call them stripes? – that has been in my stash for years. I bought it at the first Handmade Fair, which Google tells me was five years ago. Crikey. I certainly have no idea what company I bought from now. It was pretty early in my sewing days certainly and while I loved it, I was always rather scared of cutting it so it remained in the stash.

I knew enough by that point in my sewing experience to throw all new fabric in the washing machine as soon as I got home. I didn’t know enough to think carefully about washing and drying wool – and at this distance I can’t tell if the felted quality of the fabric now was from my poor washing/drying practices or whether it was always like that. No matter as I actually really like it like this – but I will stick to hand washing from this point in.

Having read the pattern instructions through I largely disregarded them during the actual construction. The pattern starts with sewing up both sides of the skirt, but I wanted to be able to fit it to me so I left the zip side open until the final stages. I didn’t want the belt loops so also missed out that stage intentionally.img_1985.jpg

And I added a pocket because … pockets.

The skirt has a waistband, and with the thickness of the wool and with the desire to have something slightly softer next to skin, I went through my box of scraps for some cotton that I could use for the inner band. The tardis fabric that I used for PJs for my husband a few years ago was just silly enough to be perfect. It’ll make me think of him when I wear it, and if it could send some of my midriff off into another dimension, that’d be just fine too.

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This was my first make since Christmas, when I was given these lovely labels from Nominette. Such a perfect present from my mum and stepdad and I look forward to using lots of them in the year ahead.

I know this is a skirt that will get a lot of use – something I can wear for work or at home and feels right for the cold winter months we’re in right now. I’m definitely about trying to make more ‘regular’ items in the next few months – things which will get daily wear and fit with my existing wardrobe without changes. So I’m pretty happy with this first step, even if I can’t help staring at the white stripe on the bottom of the front and wondering if I should take the hem up further to lose it. I think I’ll live with it for a while and see if it bothers me.

In other news, my sewing buddy joined me in my sewing room for some of my day. She decided to make two egg cosies, inspired by the Cath Kidston ‘Sew!’ book. We did point out that neither she or her two sisters actually liked boiled eggs, and she suggested that perhaps a friend sleeping over might one day say “good morning, might I have an egg for breakfast?” Because clearly all her friends are from the 1950s.

Note to self – we need to wean her off Malory Towers, and soon.

The egg cosies are very sweet and all her own work – even down to drawing her own pattern. I’m now off to order an egg for my breakfast …

Happy New Year!