Saturday, July 30, 2011

And here's what the cats think

So no final day ta da moment - it did become a dress today but it still needs sleeves, skirt lining and zipper before it can be swished around in. No worries though our lovely tutor will hold some remedial classes for us slow mos so I will not try and fit an invisible zipper all alone! There is a touch of anticlimax in not having a finished dress to show for all the hours this week but I have increased my knowledge bank and machine skills by so much more than I would have thought possible so I certainly don't feel I have nothing to show for it. 

The cats - well dear Panda spotted the new bed that I had crafted for her and just left to rest for a brief moment as I was cleaning a pile of Bingo's vomit from our one and only, tiny, patch of carpet. They think I'm a wonderful sewer but I just need to make sure my cat food sachet opening skills haven't got rusty.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Grrrrr Moment

We were discussing today in class that often with longer projects (in any craft) you have a grrrrrr moment when you're tempted to hurl it across the room or at least wonder what possessed you to start on this enterprise in the first place. The new project excitement is a distant memory, things have likely started to go not exactly according to plan and you're persevering but the teeth are somewhat gritted.
Ole dressie and I had a grrr moment this afternoon - I've been at this blessed bodice all day with precious little to show for it after a round of adjustments. Last day tomorrow and I can't see a finished dress by the evening but perhaps that's a good thing. I think I was getting carried away dreaming of swishing about in it and that focus on the end product always increases my chances of a grrr moment. I lose any pleasure in what I'm doing and just want it done. I never really believed at the start of the course that I'd have a super top notch dress - I knew I was getting in at the deep end and just wanted to absorb all I could from the course and hopefully have something I wouldn't mind wearing at home. Somewhere yesterday I started to think it could be a really beautiful dress, and maybe it will be, if I take good care of the process of making it. Teacher did say I was very methodical and patient - not two of my natural traits so I'm learning more than just sewing! Note to self (again) it's about the journey! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day Three - Actual Sewing!

So it has come to my attention that sewing is not well named, not like knitting, with knitting you get what it says, yarn and needles in hand and you're off - actually knitting - even if you don't count casting on as knitting you're in to the good stuff quick smart. Actual sewing, well that comes far down the list of activities - even if you didn't create your own pattern from scratch with mere paper and pencil to help you - sewing is way off behind pinning and fussing and worrying about straight of grain and selvedge edges (and unpinning and re-pinning as somehow you chose a slippery as an eel demon of a fabric) and wondering about right sides and considering whether all your pieces will fit (please, please I want my sleeves!) and re-pinning as you're not on the straight of grain as you'd forgotten about that in the fear of 'do I have enough fabric?!?' and then it's cutting which I thought I'd be nervous about but I was just glad not to be pinning! 

Then finally after removing the pattern pieces followed by more pinning SingSing and I made some zigzag lines (for added movement in my skirt I believe). 
Yippee it was fun! I sewed the whole skirt together - four whole seams - vroooom - delightful! Out damn pins! It has to hang out over night now to let it settle after the trauma of me sewing it, no seriously it needs time to fall in to place apparently - ooh the things I never knew.
There was a small moment where I presented my fabric to the back of the machine but at least I realised what was wrong! Ah the actual sewing, it's fun. Which is good as tonight I have hand sewing homework - tacking my lining to the bodice pieces.
Bells - you're so right - the simplicity of knitting v maths/pinning/cutting/pinning/sewing - well you know which my favourite will always be!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Paper Cuts Ahoy

I finished up my calico test of the bodice block first thing with four little seams and then my ole buddy machine got relegated to the floor as I spent the rest of the day with huge pieces of paper and thin card. 
I was fitted in to my calico by our lovely tutor Christine who marked with pins some adjustments to be made and then transferred those to my paper outline for the best fit possible. Once I was happy with the paper outline I transferred that to the card and hey presto my own bodice block which I can use in the future as the base for any dress or top pattern.
We then outlined that onto paper for the draft for the current pattern. Amending that draft with dart placement, seam positions, neckline shape, waist line placement, skirt shape and length etc is what gives the variation of the desired design. The amendments to the standard block for the dress I have in mind were to introduce seams to the bodice - both in the front and back - the curve of that seam allowing for fit around the bosom. I drew on a simple scoop neck, slightly lower at the front than the back and then traced over the draft to get the pattern pieces. I added a turning or seam allowance of 15mm. The dress will be fitted to under the bust and then have a full knee length skirt which will be made of four panels, the pattern pieces for which were created by dividing the skirt of the draft almost in to three pieces and fanning them out to the width allowed by the width of my fabric folded in half. 
So after a day full of plenty of paper I'm all raring to go tomorrow cutting out my pieces in actual fabric! I'm quite the novice in my group but it doesn't matter too much, I still think I'll get everything done in time. Only one lady has made much sewing progress on her actual dress and she has a simple shape with complicated dressings such as a mandarin collar still to come. We're ten pupils in all and every dress style is totally different even before the extra variation of fabric choice, it's amazing fun to see our tutor help translate our individual desires from a standard beginning.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sewing School - Day One

In which Sarah does not sew her fingers but she does wonder how she ended up in a maths lesson.
No truth be told even I can work out half of a measurement without too much trouble but I have spent most of today drawing lines on paper with a giant set square type thing in a maths classroom. We're making our own standard bodice block patterns. We started with paper, we make the bodice up in calico and then have it fitted and make any adjustments required - additional darts, increases on the darts etc on the paper pattern and then translate that to card so that we will always have our own template to work from.

My friend Nicole and I are lagging a little behind, most people were having their calicos adjusted by the end of today while I've only sewn the darts on mine. However I got them right first time! My little machine was like an old friend after all the pattern cutting. It's funny how when you stretch your brain so far what felt like the challenge (sewing in straight line) is actually the easy part.

I have no idea how we get from these standard bodices to our designs but tomorrow more will be revealed!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Knitting Friendly Festival

Just back from a wonderful weekend at Port Eliot. This is the second year we've been but I didn't seem to blog about it last year, perhaps because - omission of the century - I didn't take my knitting along! This year I made good use of the time that my ears were occupied with the fascinating author talks I attended. My Miette didn't quite rise to the occasion like Cadel but she's almost there.

DoveGreyReader was really doing her bit for encouraging knitting in this beautifully bedecked tent. She provided lots of needles and yarn for everyone to knit on while they had a chance to talk very informally with her author guests, and look at the wonderful book themed knitted  gifts she gave out. Patrick Barkham was one of my favourite authors - his enthusiasm for his butterfly quest was infectious.
 
I also wore a knit that hasn't made an appearance here since the knitting was finished - Double V - she's troubling me as she was a good fit when she came off the needles but has blocked out too wide. A whizz in Mum's tumble dryer hasn't sorted her so I'm plucking up the courage for a hot wash before I call her finished!
 My knitting had to have a rest while I danced round it to Andy Weatherall.
There's something for everyone at Port Eliot, and it's so beautiful with it.


  
 And recorded here a momentous moment for Ole Greenie on the way home.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Accidental Bike Ride

After last year's spectacular lack of success in the Tour knitalong I decided to retire from knitalong career and just spectate this year. There must be something of the Lance Armstrong about me though, just can't let this cycling go as it suddenly occurred to me last week that I am in fact knitting a maillot jaune!
I may even finish it in time for Paris though I have some non-knitting festival fun to distract me this weekend. Even if it takes me another week or two to do the arms and button bands it will still be my quickest garment ever, probably one of my fastest knits of any kind - an aran weight in a cropped, seamless design would have been the perfect choice for a Tour cardigan something I would never have attempted with my snail like knitting! Given the beautiful 'Sunny' shade of All Seasons Cotton and that her name is Miette I'm hopeful that the signs are there for a victorious ride in to Paris on Sunday.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Today I made...

...some very wonky coasters!
Not quite the Clever Coasters from AmyChicken's fab book Bend the Rules Sewing but I do love them.
Panda looks like she's hiding her head in her paws because I got the machine out but I did much better this time, it only made me mildly panicky at times - and that was more to do with the cutting of the material than anything else! 

It was time for some more machine sucking up as I bought my fabric for the dress making course yesterday. The lovely tutor offered us the chance to meet up with her in advance for her advice on what and how much fabric to buy in advance of the course. I had a rough sketch and not even a rough idea of what I needed to make it a reality so it was so helpful to me to have Chris and her magic tape measure on hand. 
Two and half metres of the main fabric, two metres ten cms for the lining and in less than two weeks from now I'll have a dress. Well, we'll see!

PS - That blurry photo from the last post was indeed Stonehenge - well done squinters who guessed correctly!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Treasures Made

While we were away for Mum's birthday celebrations I was tempted in to some bead shops in Shaftesbury - pause for photo of Gold Hill in Shaftesbury - I stood there and felt like I was looking at a film set or postcard come to life - certain views are just so imprinted they become surreal, this photo seems like something I bought rather than took. 
No buying this though! Can you tell what/where it is?
Anyway back to bead shops - I was VERY restrained - I've been avoiding bead shops for fear of a major splurge on a whole load of materials I won't get round to using but I decided for the price of one pair of earrings that the material to make three pairs was a good investment.

First attempt reminded me that making a pair of something is going to be a challenge.
So I was delighted when I spotted a broken brooch being sold at the weekend that had the perfect ready made droplets for a pair of earrings. Minimal intervention from me; maximum satisfaction in some trash become treasure.
Look at me and my 'upcycling'!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Treasures (?)

The 1TB and I had a good haul from a car boot yesterday - his mainly CDs, mine mainly haberdashery and crockery - it's always the same mix.
 I love this cross between a basket and string bag which folds down flat.
I'm not sure whether the bulk load of two fridge drawers full of gubbins and the sewing box equivalent of a transformer 

don't have a little more of the trash than treasure about them but the rummaging through their secrets is a form of treasure in itself.

Monday, July 04, 2011

A Birthday Scarf

All quiet here for a while while I holidayed and knit this secret squirrel project and then celebrated with the giftee. My Mama turned 60 this weekend and she had to have a handknit gift of course. 
Pattern: Simple Basket Stitch
Started: June 26th 2011
Finished: July 1st 2011

I started knitting this in plenty of time as MeloMelo, the beautiful pattern written for this bonus yarn from last year's Knit Love Club, but I just couldn't get along with the lace on the 5mm needles and I was losing the subtle shifts of colour in the pattern. So last Sunday morning I ripped it out and basket stitched my way through this past week back at work, casting off with enough time for a rinse and block thanks only to the glorious sunshine we've had this weekend. Mama loves it and I do too. The yarn is a superstar and I love a simple pattern to showcase that. Worked on 5mm needles it drapes like a dream. It's the softest, most luxurious thing I've ever made and it was lovely to hand it over in person and celebrate her birthday with her. A big surprise for her as she thought she was away for a quiet weekend. Such happy memories made, just as there are happy times knit in to this. Such a harmonious matching of stitch and yarn made this version a very pleasurable knit.
I knew we'd never squeeze in a blog photo shoot so took some photos before wrapping. I love this last shot, do you see that white fuzz on the right, could be cotton wool or something? Something indeed. Something like the paw of a rascally Bingo cat who was only milliseconds and millimetres away from trying out the cashmere and silk for herself!
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