Ever have one of those days where you wake up and you quietly wish that you were a better photographer because everything you look at has the potential to be a super cool photo?
Like my breakfast this morning:
Love the colour/contrast of the white and blue dishes with the food in them. Then I went downstairs:
Also love the look of my grandmother's kitchen cannisters, now my button bins, on this very vintage looking fabric, with all the sewing detritus from a project discussion with my daughter last night.
It was all making me so happy that I took a round of pictures of myself with bedhead, doing a little dance:
And just made myself laugh even more.
Practice with the camera is in order, I think.
When last we met, I was heading into the weekend with a plan to make some slouchy linen trousers out of this fabric:
Remember when I said that I thought it was greener than it showed up in these pictures? Turns out that it wasn't. When I was matching thread, it just read as brown. Some days even I am surprised at my lack of colour perception. I forged ahead though, and made most of a pair of trousers.
They were unfortunate.
There was a weirdness.
In the back.
Where nobody ever really wants a weirdness.
A diaper butt looking thing.
And when I looked back at the other pair of pants that I made from the pattern, same problem but on a lesser scale.
So I turfed both pairs. It's all good.
Now I know.
And it got me thinking about the pants again. I pulled out the pattern that I ended up with after the weekend with Ron, and walked the seams. It still looks hilarious.
When I walked the seams, I found that the outer leg seam was 1.5 " longer than it's counterpart. That would explain this:
Those pleats that were pinned out of the last pair. They're about 1.5". So I amended the problem with the pattern, and traced it off. I also did a small full thigh adjustment on the front.
Here they are, all cut out and waiting to be sewn:
Exciting mustard yellow. This time I am leaving the back pockets off, and I have made the front pockets deeper.
While I was casting about in the stash to find something to use as pocket lining, I happened upon this batik:
I bought it a few years ago when I was first experimenting with shirts for my brother. It wasn't right for him, but yesterday it was perfect for me. Since I was cutting things out anyway, I decided to cut out this shirt:
I made it for my mom a few years ago, and while she didn't like it much, I always wished I had made it for myself. So now I am.
That's what's on the agenda for this week, along with masses of work projects and general getting things together.
One of the things that I do with a friend of mine when life gets busy, is exchange emails comprised of all the random things that come up that I think should be shared with her, and would be if we had time to get together. They are never super important things. But they are the things that comprise a friendship that lasts. Minutiae sometimes rules. I am doing a thousand things in the studio lately, but not a lot of them are blog-able. So I thought I would fill in with some of the random things that I keep meaning to tell you:
1. Progress on the shawl:
This yarn is fabulously squishy, and the pattern is perfect for those moments when you need something to do with your hands, but not too much to occupy the brain. Plus I think it will last me until September.
2. Today I have been ironing shirts. Usually I love summer because my husband wears golf shirts to work and I don't have to iron. Not that I have to iron ever, but in our marriage I am the one who deals with fabric (laundry, ironing, procurement ;)) and he deals with dishes and cat-feeding. It's a fair deal. I rarely have to get up at 6 am on a Saturday to iron a shirt. I have been on an organizing kick for the last little while. Not one of those ones where you can't stop doing stuff until it is.all.done. This one is a little more gentle on me and those around me. Today I decided to spend the day emptying the ironing basket and then eliminating it from my house. Here's my theory. No ironing basket=no ironing left to pile up for a couple of weeks. We'll see how that goes.
3. Today, I have ironed about 35 shirts.
4. Most of them weren't mine.
5. I have also come to the realization that for the first time in our married life, my husband has more clothes than me.
7. It's been hot here - Calgary isn't often hot for very long, so no-one has air conditioning. I love the heat.
8. The cats don't. This is where they are spending their days lately:
9. Then they spend their nights trying to get everyone up because they are lonely.
10. My husband is getting very good with a spray bottle.
11. I still love the heat.
12. I think I might have been a lizard in a former life.
13. Always in search of a good rock on a hot day.
14. I have also been feeling the need for a pair of slouchy, loose linen trousers. Something to put on after a shower at the end of a hot day.
15. The teenagers present preclude the wearing of nothing, which also feels good after a shower at the end of a hot day.
16. So I guess what's in my head is socially acceptable pajama pants.
18. Here's the fabric:
19. It looks greener in person. Or maybe just in my head.
20. Time to pull out the Sew U pattern I am tweaking to acceptability and move it a little closer.
21. Sewing, yeah!
22. Heather of Closet Case Files has put out a call for pattern testers. While filling out the form, I realized that I have been sewing for about 30 years.
24. Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe my loose linen trousers that don't exist yet need a Nettie to go with.
It has occurred to me of late, that while my address involves the words "crazy knitter" there hasn't been much in the way of knitting content. As I look around my house, there are various projects in the middle stages by various chairs, and they're all interesting. They all get a couple of rows here and there when I sit in the chair that they are parked beside. But none of them are proceeding quickly. I'm okay with that. This summer has proven itself to be one of the most challenging ones ever, so having knitting accessible is all that's important.
Let's play catch up, shall we?
First up, a finished object. There are one of the pairs of socks that stay in my bag, and get worked on while waiting about in public places. They are always plain, since they may be left alone for months at a time. They are simple and they help keep my feet warm all winter with the added bonus that I rarely complain about having to wait in doctor's offices. These puppies have been blocked and sitting around waiting for their close-up long enough that I had to brush the cat hair off to take the picture. Poor babies. Now they can go live in the sock drawer with the others.
Underneath the source of said cat hair is a really lovely cardigan that I started a couple of months ago. This one lives downstairs, in front of the big television that we watch tv on in the evenings. It got me through the Stanley Cup, and now it's doing duty during CFL games and So You Think You Can Dance (love, love, love Ricky). I'm on the final sleeve, then it will be steeked and finished up. The wool is Cascade Eco - leftovers that were in the stash. The pattern is a free one:Idunn from Knitty. It should be done by the fall.
Then we move upstairs to the study. There we have this little number. A Brooklyn Tweed Devlan. It's made out of stash Wool-Ease. When the kids were little, I had a slight fixation with machine washable and dryable yarn. A couple of sales at Michael's and I ended up with a ton of it. Luckily I'm still messy, so it's being used up slowly. This one is on the first sleeve.
And this is a lovely, lovely Adult Surprise Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman. It's made from worsted leftovers, mostly Custom Woolen Mills 3 ply. I love their wool. It's wooly, it blooms beautifully and comes in the loveliest heathers. It's spun on a machine made in 1910. It's awesome. This sweater though, is very heavy. I'm about 2/3 done, but it hurts my wrists to do much more than a row or two. It's progressing slowly though.
Speaking of Custom Woolen Mills, as well as Brooklyn Tweed, here's a sweet combination of the two. It's Ivar from Wool People 7 as well. See what I mean about their fabulous heathers. This picture isn't really doing it justice. It's yummy.
So those are the projects that are sitting in various spots around the house. But the knitting is a comfort in times of trouble. And after receiving yet more bad news yesterday, my first move was to a bin of laceweight yarn. Time for a shawl. Shawls are what I make for friends that are in times of stress. Time to make one for me. I found this lovely yarn:
The tag says 90% alpaca, 10% silk. There is no manufacturer listed. I think it's from Saskatchewan. So the yarn is in place, and I'm feeling the need for some garter stitch. As usual, Elizabeth Zimmerman to the rescue. Stonington it is. A lovely garter stitch square, with a lacey border. Something to keep my hands busy while my brain adjusts to our new reality.
Last summer, in the throes of insomnia, I got out of bed one night and headed down to the studio. I was suddenly seized by the idea of VOLUME.
I had been reading some blogs about designing dresses with lots of fabric, and still managing said fabric well. Daughterfish has a fabulous tutorial for her Future Dress - which is her interpretation of designer Claire McCardell's dress from 1945. Then there was Sallieoh's beautiful Ikat dress. Apparently the summer of 2012 was full of big dresses. Aaanywho...
At 2 am, I was seized with a need for a big dress. Never mind that I have a couple of figure fitting issues that preclude mountains of fabric. It was 2 am. Logic doesn't enter the picture. I had recently purchased some lightweight blue plaid fabric, and so I started. I wanted it to be cool and breezy, but also facilitate the wearing of a bra. I'm funny like that. I grabbed my Wiksten tank pattern and laid it on the fabric on the fold. I copied it through the shoulders and bust area and then abandoned it, making the side seam as long and as wide as the fabric would allow (60"!).
I sewed the whole thing together (just the shoulders and two side seams) and went to bed. When I got up the next morning, I tried it on only to discover that I had constructed a muumuu. Surprise. So I folded it up, and tucked it away until this summer.
Recently I pulled it out, still in love with the fabric, and hoping that we would get some weather that would warrant an easy breezy dress. I finished the hem, armholes and neck edge with bias binding, and tried it on again. It felt great, but the husband opinion was that "Well...ummm...it's too big...just too big...". All the wonderful, swishy volume was hanging off my boobs in the front, making me look bigger than I am.
So. I played around with tucks and pleats and things, trying to make it more interesting. No luck. Then finally I ended up with the simplest solution of all - one tuck center front.
It reigned in some of the volume and, because of the dominant stripes in the plaid, did interesting things with the lines.
The back is still straight up and down, which is nice.
And the side seams do interesting chevron-y things. Which I also love. That's some wicked insomniac pattern matching.
That's the story of my "Not a Muumuu". I am wearing it today - for some of the first really hot weather that we have had. I love it when it's hot and bake-y. We don't get that kind of weather very much here in Calgary since we are close to the mountains. Maybe I will get some pictures today if time permits.
I was down in the studio on Saturday afternoon, doing some stencilling (which was superfun - more later) when I heard a horrible screeching-scratching sound coming from the laundry room. The light-coloured laundry was in the washing machine, and the cycle was almost done, but the sound was horrible. Metal on metal scraping is not a sound that anyone ever wants to hear from their front-loading washer.
I went in, turned it off, and since it was almost done (only a minute left) left it until the dryer was finished. There was a little bit of avoidance in that, I have to admit. Our dryer isn't functioning at it's best and I didn't want to have to face the bills that would inevitably accrue if both were on the fritz. When I did return to deal with the issue, however, this is what I found.
I made this bra a couple of months ago. It was an experiment to see how I liked the cups - I made them out of foam using the pattern pieces. The quality of the outer fabric isn't great however, so I haven't been treating it gently. It's been tossed in the washer with all the other laundry and washed on cold.
Apparently it didn't like it.
One entire underwire worked it's way out and got itself wedged in one of the holes of the drum. The end of it rubbing on the outer drum was the source of the incredibly loud screeching noise.
Genie the cat is very helpfully pointing out where the damage is to the underwire.
And the other one was on it's way to freedom when I caught it:
After careful inspection, I can only find one spot that the underwire could have worked it's way out of - a tiny gap in the stitching of the casing by the underarm. And by tiny, I mean about 1/8" in length.
Hopefully no longterm damage to the washing machine!!
Make sure you stitch up all your gaps!
That sounds a little rude, but you know what I mean.
As earlier stated, I went through a period of extreme frustration with the sewing/fitting thing last month. That's okay. These things happen with hobbies. But I was beginning to feel a little lost without it. So when an email popped up in my inbox, promoting a "Sewing Road Trip", I decided to take part.
What is it? Well it's a club of sorts, put together by Betz White. Over the course of the summer, you receive a PDF of a new pattern every three weeks. They all have to do with vacation kinda things. It costs $35 for all 5 patterns. At the time, my thought was "What the hell." The first one was a duffel bag.
So now it's time for some full disclosure. I love making bags. It's kind of a thing with me. But I don't always carry them. There are times where I think I need a good leather bag to help dispel the homemade look that can crop up. I'm getting over it, but there it is. Anyway, the thing about sewing bags is getting the interfacing right - too crisp and the bag crinkles unattractively. If it isn't crisp enough it looks...well...baggy (hah!).
This one, I love.
It has just the right amount of stiffness to stand up on its' own when it's empty, but it isn't so stiff that you couldn't cram it full of stuff for the trip home. (anyone else know why the minute you open up a bag when you are on vacation, the contents of said bag expand such that it is impossible to get everything back in? No? Well, it's just me then.)
There are handy outer pockets, as well as a cunning way of attaching those rectangular rings that hold the handles on. And that's not all (anyone else feeling an infomercial vibe here? No? Well maybe it's just me then.)
I lined the inside with muslin so that you can see what's in there (dark linings - whose idea was that?) and it also has cunning pockets - three on one side.
And a zipperred one on the other. (Is zipperred a word? It looks wrong, but satisfying somehow?)
Plus, there is this awesome bit of pattern cutting on the end:
So, while I was delightfully surprised with the finished product, there are a few caveats - as with most bags, there is a lot of fusing in this project. Every single piece of fabric involved has something fused to it - whether it's interfacing or fusible batting. I spent one day cutting everything, then a few minutes every day doing all the fusing. The sewing went quite quickly. None of it is very hard. I actually read the directions (crazy, I know) which was good because the construction is unlike any other bag I have made. It's very cunning. I love things that are cunning. And I love to be surprised by something that turns out better than I thought it would.
Way back in January, when the winter blues were setting in, and I was kinda bored, the No More RTW challenge seemed like a good and interesting thing to do. And I really learned a lot about my self and how I use shopping and consuming to avoid dealing with real problems in life. It is something that I hadn't realized I was doing to the extent that I was, and led to some real progress with some issues I was having. While on the one hand, I was extolling the virtues of a handmade life, I wasn't really living the way I thought was in line with my ideas.
So that was good.
Then Me-Made-May came along. I over-committed myself. I decided that I wouldn't wear anything that wasn't me-made. And failed at that in the first few days, but eventually made it to about 80% me-mades for the month. Which is pretty good.
But here's the thing. The first few months of this year for our family were, to put it politely, a bitch. There is no way around it. I don't want to go into the details, but suffice it to say that we were bufferred from pillar to post physically, mentally and emotionally. I didn't shop. But I did eat. So now, as a new season is upon us, I weigh more than I ever have. Nothing fits. I am back to taking care of myself by eating healthy food and exercising every day, and the weight is slowly coming off. All of that is part of life, and life is good.
I also realized something a couple of weeks ago. I felt really bad in all my clothes. And for me, feeling bad in my clothes makes me feel bad inside. And I didn't want to spend the time and energy making clothing that was only going to fit me for a month or two. Also, I was being confronted with the baggage from the winter every time I looked in the mirror. Altering patterns to fit this version of me was yet another confrontation that I just didn't need. I made a pair of shorts with an elastic waist, but they just made me feel worse. It was affecting my creativity. I didn't want to be in the studio. I didn't want to make stuff. It is an essential part of who I am, and I just didn't want to do it.
So I caved.
I went to the Gap Factory Store and I bought a pair of jeans that fit, a t-shirt and a denim shirt. Then I went to another store and bought one pair of shorts and a grey t-shirt.
Crazy indulgent, right?
But I immediately felt better. I had clothing that didn't make me feel like a stuffed sausage. I felt more like myself than I had in months. It wasn't that the clothing was from a store, it was that it fit. And it's already feeling loose.
That's the thing about limits - sometimes they can help fuel creativity. Isn't that what challenges are about? Seeing how you function within a set of rules? But sometimes they are...well...limiting. For me, right now, the RTW challenge was too much. And that's okay. It was great while I did it. Four and a half months made me examine myself and my wardrobe. It made me get rid of the clothing that was hanging around for too long. It made me a better version of myself. But now it's time to let it all go and get creative again.
Sorry I haven't been here in awhile. It's just...well...the marching band pants...well...they killed the mojo.
It's not their fault. There must have been a tracing error. Or something. But here's what I ended up with, after all that:
The thing is - you can pin it out the solution:
Or rather part of it anyway. It looks like time on my bike is starting to shift things around on my body.
But it's a little late for these babies. I'm not sure if darts or pleats up and down the outside leg seam are quite the look I'm going for. Also, the front pockets are too shallow, and the back pockets are too low, making my rather sad bottom look even lower than it already is.
Sometimes learning is hard.
I put the pants in time out, quietly folded up the pattern and put it away.
Then I thought. I thought hard.
And started again with a new pattern and armed with the knowledge I had gleaned from the other pants. I pulled out the basic pant pattern from Built By Wendy Sew U. As an aside - I own all four of her books. If you don't, you should. They are all awesome. Back to the pants. I started off by making the legs wide - I was using linen with no stretch so fitted was not a good idea. Also, that meant that I could deal with getting the fit at the top and the crotch curve right, and not have to deal with fitting my legs.
So far, so good. Then I made them capri length. I am tall enough that wide legged capris aren't a problem (at least I don't think they are). I continued on, making a few changes to the crotch curve, using the information from the sad pattern. And here they are:
From the front, okay.
And not too bad from the back.
Next step - another pair with a full thigh adjustment. I think that will take away the weirdness under the bum - counter intuitive I know, but I think that wrunkling is happenning because there should be more fabric in the front. All that biking.... This side picture really shows the different curves I am trying to work around - the full thigh and the full calf, as well as the weird bum. No wonder this is so hard.
I like it, depending on the time of day. I made a size 12, according to my measurements at the moment, blending out to a 16 at the waist - but ended up taking all that out again, so I'm going with a 12. It turns out that I really wanted a pencil skirt, which this is not. I like it at the beginning of the day when the denim is still all cinchy, but by the end of the day it barely stays up and is more of an a-line. It's still good but just not what I wanted. I will make it again though.
So that's when the mojo died. I am slowly getting it back, but a little discouraged by the fact that, at the moment, every single thing that I make needs a lot of adjustments. I know that's part of sewing, but it's kinda killing me. I am so close to having some good, basic patterns. I just need a bit of a breather. I started a duffel bag - there aren't any fitting issues there, but I did end up fusing a large rectangle of fusible batting to my ironing board instead of the fabric. For future reference, put some paper towel on top of that puppy and iron on top of it. The heat of the iron will melt the glue and the paper towel will absorb it.