A blue-green pencil

With three or four things identified and planned for my next sewing projects, I followed my standard disinclination to work on any of those today and decided to find something new. It’s not that they aren’t lovely projects with great fabrics that I really want to make. I just didn’t want to make them today.

green blue skirtIn my overflowing stash I found a lovely piece of turquoise-blue jersey that I’d used a small amount of for the contrast colour on a hoodie for a newborn. With most of the metre left to play with, I decided to pair it with New Look K6217, view C – a basic pencil skirt.

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I’m not a fast sewist, and I like it that way. For me, the meditative benefits of sewing include preparing the place I’ll be working in, making a large cup of coffee, choosing some good music and taking my time with the instructions. Unless I’m sewing for an event that I’ve (inevitably) left things right to the last minute for – such as a dress that I completed in one very long evening for a wedding the next day – I much prefer to take my time and enjoy the journey.

That said, there was a great deal of satisfaction today in a pattern with two pieces, couple of darts, cut out, sewn up and even hand-sewn at the hem within a couple of hours hours. Yes, it’s no sewing bee challenge of an achievement, but I certainly wasn’t racing.

The pattern is designed for a woven fabric, so in swapping in a nice, stable jersey I was able to skip the zip and attach the waistline to a wide elastic rather than the twill tape specified in the pattern. That didn’t work quite the way it was going to in my imagination (where the elastic would have turned completely to the inside), but I found I quite liked the finish, so left it there.IMG_2842

The whole project (not sure it can really justify the term ‘project’ but let’s work with it) was a satisfying, simple sew. The skirt is comfortable, fits me well and in a colour I’ll get a lot of wear out of. Sometimes, that’s all a Saturday demands.

 

 

Agent Carter – or Coco the Clown?

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After watching both series of Agent Carter again with my teenage daughters, and spending a lot of time discussing the wonderful clothes (and cars) with them, I decided to aim for as much ‘Peggy’ style as I could muster in my future sewing plans.

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(c) Marvel Agent Carter

With this in mind, I set out to make the Victory Patterns Esther trousers.

One look at the elegant pattern lines will show you the reasons for this choice.

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The deep pleats and swooshy wide legs would clearly turn me into a fearless fifties crime fighter with an extensive and well-tailored wardrobe.

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Or in the alternative, would turn me into Coco the Clown.

It’s a perennial problem with being on the short side of average, that things that look amazing in theory (eg on beautiful models on patterns) don’t always work that way in practice (eg on me).  When I was nearing completion it seemed clear to me that elegance with this kind of trouser demands a rather longer silhouette than I’m capable of. Trying on the fairly final trousers (sans waistband and hemming) gave me a curious and far-from-elegant quantity of fabric around the pleating that seemed to indicate that it might be Hammer-time, but really didn’t say fearless fifties crime fighter.

Left sadly in my sewing pile for the week while the job-that-pays took precedence, I finally finished them off this weekend and now I’m happy to report that I think I love them again. Yes, there’s a LOT of fabric in the area below the waist – and though the pleats are beautiful and elegant, with the pockets and layers of drapey fabric involved, there’s a lot going on. But, at least while standing, they do still make me feel a bit Peggy, and I’m willing to take the rest for a hint of that.

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As a make, the Esther pattern is great. The instructions are detailed with great illustrations, and everything came together as it should. I used a hook fastening rather than a button because the waistband was a tad snug – but otherwise followed the pattern exactly.

The drapey crepe I used was from Fabrics Galore, and the pocket bags were made with a remnant of similar weight greeny-blue satin-backed crepe (as I hadn’t quite enough of the main fabric).While I love the peek of green this gives, it is a dilemma for this pattern – a thinner pocket bag fabric would give a little less weight to the waistband, but as it’s visible (and the pocket is formed from one pattern piece) it really needs to have a similar weight to the rest of the trousers. On the whole, I think you do need fabric with this kind of substance to make the trousers work, but it certainly means that I should have graded the seams caught within the waistband rather more ruthlessly. Ah well, there are worse things. img_2816-e1526249645900.jpg

 

If I were making the pattern again (and I certainly intend to), I’d probably seek out a slightly lighter weight fabric. Depending on how they wear, I might also reduce down a little of the volume caused by the beautiful pleats and very wide legs – but let’s keep an open mind at this point.

Tomorrow is the acid test, as I wear them to work in a secondary school. If the laughter of a hundred children follows me down the corridors, I’ll know I am indeed more Coco than Carter.

 

 

The Gateway

Autumn 2013, I was walking through John Lewis idly wondering what to spend some vouchers on that I’d been given for my 40th birthday. I passed the haberdashery section and spied an ugly sewing machine – one of the John Lewis own brand models in a colour-way that hadn’t worked – for only £25. “Why not?” I thought. I’d always been fascinated by the thought of sewing and of having a machine; and if navy and lime green wasn’t a soothing choice, it frankly didn’t matter when sewing straight lines.limegreenmachine

There, in that simple moment, it started. While the blue and lime green machine has long since been replaced (one with a light, an automatic needle threader and more options to change stitches/feet becoming important over time), it was my gateway to a new part of my life.

The first project that followed was a circle skirt. I found a pattern on line that promised it was ‘Easy’, some beautiful black shiny (and oh so slippery) Chinese brocade, and the different notions that I needed, and slowly puzzled out the instructions. Thank goodness for starting this journey in the days of the Internet; being able to google definitions that meant nothing to me was a lifesaver.

Eventually my circle skirt was finished. Even its mother (which I suppose would technically be me) couldn’t admire its hem, but you know it’s still one of the me-made items in my wardrobe that I wear most and get the most comments about. It taught me from the start that a beautiful fabric (in a dark colour with a print) can hide some truly dodgy sewing, and that garments that fit well in both height (I’m 5’2″) and width, make you feel good.

Sewing, its community and the peace and creativity it gives me, are really important to me. In this blog, I’m going to try and reflect on some of that.