Saturday, 16 July 2016

Listening to the fabric - Felted Wool Jacket

I love this jacket.
A couple of years ago, Helen mentioned that a small local fabric store was closing down. I managed to go in during its final days and after chatting to the lovely proprietress, I left with some very lovely pieces of fabric.
And every few months I pulled the fabric from my special stash, patted it, dreamt of what it would like to be, and tucked it away again in its tissue paper.
This amazing felted wool is part of that small collection.
I finally settled on a cape last winter, and amped up my collection of all the cape patterns, vintage and contemporary, Japanese, French and English, jacket-cape styles, raglan or circle, arm slits or arms underneath, I have them all.
None of them were 'just right' for this wool though.
So I made my own.
I love that I have raw edges wherever I could. I especially love that the entire jacket is cut from one piece, with zero waste and no interruption to the border print.
Want to know what I did?
It's simply a rectangle of fabric, with 2 slits vertically at my shoulders. I then inserted 4 triangles, cut from a rectangle along the non-border print edge, as raglan sleeves along this slit. I have considered inserting godets in the diamond shaped underarms, however the open diamonds are working very well.
Ok, so I do have 2 spare triangles, but they aren't waste ;)
The felted wool isn't perfect - although it's perfectly striking. I had to reinforce each seamline as it's not particularly strong. I started using rayon seam tape, then changed to strips of charcoal silk. The back neckline is faced with silk as well. Each seam is top stitched on each side for added stability.
Apart from a rather high level of satisfaction that my concept worked (YAY!), what I adore and makes this a 'throw on every day' jacket is that it's perfectly versatile. It is delightfully snuggly when pinned closed high on my neck, perfectly warm when worn with a V-neck - with either a casual exposed facing collar, or with them tucked in for a neat version - or open and breezy when I only need my back and shoulders covered. I've not put any permanent closures on, my everyday bag style is a messenger bag/cross body satchel and it holds it in place perfectly when I'm not using a shawl pin.
And the fabric, I am SO glad I took that deep breath and nabbed my 1.5m of felted grey wool with felted black foliage.


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Dairing at the Dressmakers Do

2016 Dressmakers Do : Party time in Melbourne town
Lace LBD
Machine knit Dairing 2/3/Four
Listening to the fabric : felted grey wool jacket
Another occasion to frock up and celebrate all things made by hand with some very talented sewists, this time at the #DressmakersDo organised by the lovely Nichola of the Handmaker's Factory and Leisl of Jorth.
I went for a textural, black and grey outfit; three separates that I know will get plenty of wear in my Melbourne wardrobe.
First up is my classic black lace sheath dress - some may recall that I made and wore this to the very first Frocktails in 2013. Yes, it's the same lace dress, and I still adore it. It has it's very own blog post here: Everyone needs an LBD 09/2013
still haunted by that flash, but what a delightful introduction it was to some lovely and talented sewing friends!
To add some warmth for my travels, I made a grey coat with the most fabulous felted wool - it will have it's own post soon.
For some interest, I thought an avant-garde top knitted in stainless steel, silk and cotton might be just the thing.
Meet Theresa Dair's Dairing top 2/3/Four.
As an overlay (also great with a black tank)
I really like Teresa Dair's design aesthetic. Textural pieces, often knitted with non-traditional threads, in non-traditional gauges, which can be worn in a multitude of ways. It's very similar to my favourite Japanese pattern designers and when made in shades of black, perfectly me ;)
And from the back in its shawl cardigan view:

Crafting friends really are the best.

I found the Dairing 2/3/Four kit in a Raveller's destash, mentioned on Instagram that I was contemplating dabbling in machine knitting to make it and received the most generous offer of a loan of a knitting machine. (thank you again x)
gratuitous dachshund shot. Yes, he 'helped'...
The hand knitters guild market gave me an opportunity to observe and meet some machine knitters, as well as to meet the talented Teresa Dair herself and get some hints on converting the pattern to being machine knit.
The machine knitters guild (MKAV) in the form of the lovely Christine encouraged and guided me through the skills required and I set to work.
For anyone who, like me, has never dabbled before, it's both as easy, and much more time consuming than I had imagined. The actual processing of each row is very quick. The set up, double e-wrap cast on, troubleshooting and eventual cast off was a steep learning curve.
My swatch - used to determine the amount of stitches to cast on, and how many rows to knit.
I underestimated my sleeve length.
The machine is not unlike my overlocker - adorable when behaving but a bugger to rethread and troubleshoot - I don't 'know' it intimately enough yet, so troubleshooting has been a lot of retracing of my steps and cursing.
After 187 rows, the 2nd sleeve was done! So was the cone of thread....
I then used my sewing machine to attach the 4 pieces (Four pieces is a direct reflection of it's name 2/3/Four. I also have Two/3/4 in the same yarn/threads).
I finished it and wasn't sure if I liked it.

I then had to unpick the left sleeve, you may see it's tight in the photo. This was painful.  It was necessary as my 'loose' cast off was still far too tight, exacerbated by the fact that I'd inserted it upside down. I couldn't move my left arm. The cuff on the left now stretches out horribly after 10min of wear, despite blocking ;( I might add a flared cuff extension to both arms, maybe...
new friends and old ;)
Updated newsflash: I do like it ;) It's missing in most of my DressmakersDo photographs as the venue was warm, and as lightweight as it is, the silk & stainless steel is warm as well. What struck me by surprise is how very soft the fabric is! I really was anticipating it being more sculptural, however it's a delightful soft top.
Project page on Ravelry is here

Photowall props for the Win!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Liberty Linden Love

Ok, so I wear, a lot, of Melbourne Black, 
and navy....
and some other colours..... 
which escape me at the moment...
One colour that's pretty much missing from my wardrobe is shocking pink.

Of course, it's the perfect colour to add a bit of brightness to my winter palette. Primarily as it can't clash with anything ;)

I'm not usually a huge Liberty print fan (sacrilege, I know), I adore the feel of their Tana lawn, but the prints don't often grab me. This is Kindle* a tonal print with subtle little florals and foliage, totally gorgeous, and, well, yes, very, very pink.
*(from the Liberty of London website): Kindle Liberty print was sketched while listening to the Elysian singers perform at The Royal Festival Hall. The final hand drawn repeat has the design Elysian woven into its sound waves.

I actually had a shopping cart open on The Fabric Store's NZ  site when the word went out that it had landed in the Melbourne store... I blame Instagram (you know who you are... yes ... you... and yes, you too....)

And yes, a family trip was made the next morning so I could feel it IRL and once patted, it came home with me.
It's very perfectly fleecy, and even more so after a trip through the washing machine.
Essentially it is a woven though. I considered making another drop shouldered top, in the style of my much adored black wool awesome thing:
And then my love for my new vintage wool woven Linden won out and I made View A.
This is the size 8, with 2cm taken out of the back raglan seams, reducing to nothing by 7cm.
The sleeves are simply turned and stitched. I know much has been discussed of the long arms of the pattern as drafted and I didn't include the cuff. I do like warm hands however and would use the same arm length if I made it again (with added cuffs)
Silliness prevails. The weather conspired against this photoshoot for nearly a month.
Removing 4cm from the back neckline has brought it in nicely as well, as drafted, the Linden is a tad wider than I prefer in a rounded neckline. The boatneck on my black top is just a bit wide for many layering options and I wanted this top to be a non-drafty winter staple.
I felt very indulgent as I cut my neckline on the bias - such an inefficient use of fabric! It was worth it though. I had previously stabilised the entire neckline with iron on stay tape (yes, I love it!) and after carefully stitching the bias on, it was 'sticky-uppery' ;( I nearly cried.
I do love the cross over of our fibre arts though, I channelled my inner knitter, went into blocking mode and ignored that I wasn't playing with wool . I simply saturated the neckline pieces and patted them back into shape. After some steaming with my iron, the neckline was perfectly snugged - yes, I'm rather chuffed with my neckline.

The hip hem is taken straight from my black jumper. It's a piece of straight grain fabric, the circumference of my hips, folded and sewn to a slightly gathered bottom edge of garment. It keeps out any winter breeze and allows the top to blouson over a belt or winter padding.
Silly poses aside, it's the first top in a while to have elicited random unsolicited compliments - although, they were mostly on how lovely it was to see me in pink....
*For a hint on my previous (BL, Before Liberty) pink aversion, I mentioned a pink 80's windcheater with koalas in my 2014 black post...

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Autumn 2016! : Woven Linden for the win

My most loved and frequently reached for winter top is the black/grey boxy felted wool top with the cool tree design.
This is a lighter weight and colour alternative to keep it company. It's also a test for me of the well loved Grainline Linden that took the sewing world by storm on it's release in 2014.

This is a straight size 8 Linden, view B in non-stretch woven fabric 

Sewn with 70cm of opp shop sourced vintage wool, washed (read as mildly felted & pre-shrunk) & slightly itchy. It's all good though as I love the speckled wool and it's a layering piece, part of my armour against the winter winds that come straight off the Antarctic.
*Update after wearing this almost every day for the past 5 weeks - it's not itchy IRL! And the neckline lets everything layer well, I adore this SOOO much!!
I was pleasantly surprised at the swiftness of putting it together and of the fit straight from the pattern. I've knitted a raglan sleeve cardigan, but never sewn one, being of the belief that they 'don't work' with forward shoulders. News flash, they do, and I can't believe I've dismissed them for so long! The sleeves are 3cm shorter than the view B pattern to fit on my wool remnant, and in this woven fabric, they'd not have worked any longer without darts and shaping.

I did take in the back raglan seams by 2cm at the neckline, grading to nothing by 7cm. Amanda gave the heads up on her rad quilted Linden & back breeze from Antarctic wind is not welcomed down here anymore than it is in Canberra. It also has snugged the neckline nicely, so I'll continue with this for the next version.
*photographic evidence is in the pink version, up next!

Such a gorgeous paisley match
I used a lovely vintage Liberty to face the neckline, it came from my $10 bag at the first Phillips Shirtmaker sale.
The sleeves and split hem are simply pinked, turned and hand stitched, invisibly in the wool, giving me the option to adjust them if I wish.
Woven vintage wool = swing!
A wildly pink Liberty in Kindle, view A, is up next to brighten my winter.
Yes, you could say my sew-jo is back ;)
More mad and crazy antlers in the next Linden post!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

SEWN: Hannah by the seaside

Victory Patterns' Hannah Dress
I've really enjoyed being able to wear my latest summer dress so late into Autumn. Today was another perfect example, so we meandered down to Williamstown, chatted to some divers and fishermen and had a lovely lunch - and jumped at the chance to take a few snaps of Hannah, even though we only had a phone - I'm very appreciative that I have a very talented photographer.

Hannah, of course, is Victory Patterns' newest dress and 'not a shift dress, shift dress'*
*yes, I am possibly the only one who makes such a strange comparison between straight +/- A-line shift dresses that I adore, but don't adore me, and ones with amazing seamlines and non-shift dress details. It reminds me of the Dandelion dress that I made twice & loved to death.

Hannah is described as an intermediate pattern, and that's an accurate statement. Precision marking and sewing isn't my strongest point and there are 4 darts, and those fabulous angled side seams that flow into the generous pockets - ohh how I adore the proper sized pockets! 
Other makes: 
Corrine Appleby in a lovely herbaceous sketch print - definitely my kind of a floral. I can relate to her comments on precision sewing, it's not my strongest skill either and basting might be a very good idea. Her Hannah looks lovely in 2 fabrics, I especially love the exposed binding.

And of course the fabulous Christy of CleverTinker who whipped up a gorgeous black rayon-linen-poly version the second Hannah was released, and swayed the world towards adding Hannah to our 'must make' queues ;) As always it's gorgeously styled and she sealed the 'sew Hannah now' deal for me.
All of our dresses are appropriately short. Mine feels fine while I'm walking, I think it's the faced shirt hem that holds it in place. Sitting however is another story, it's definitely a 'napkin on lap' length.
For the record, I'm  5'5" 165cm and made the size 37, a 37 5/8" or 95.6cm length, measured (by the pattern info) from shoulder at base of neck along the front.

My bust measurement is size 6, (with hips of an 8), however I'm glad I didn't try to grade between sizes and just made the 8, as the front bodice is tight across my forward shoulders. I'll do my usual adjustments and cut away at the front armscye next time.

And the elephant in the room - yes, I stuffed up the concealed front placket. The instructions are detailed, full of images and take up 3.5 pages. I clearly didn't fold accurately enough as the front looked great, but the back was off by the time I reached column 9 of 11.
I had forgotten how wonderful Victory Pattern's instruction are, despite my placket troubles, they are illustrated, detailed and nicely laid out. The pattern booklet is 17 pages long.

I love the faced hem, I love the generous pockets and I love the side seamlines and the back detail.

I didn't have any difficulties sewing through the 6+ layers at the shoulders as my fabric was lightweight. I did have difficulties with seam finishing as my fabric frayed easily. All seams which are enclosed, aren't finished separately. This would be ok with almost any other fabric. Mine has wriggled and shifted and I've cursed as it threatens to fray through the seams. It's a slubby linen look poly blend in the most divine true blue (according to Dulux), from Kinki Gerlinki in Brunswick.

I'm now plotting how best to make a version suitable for winter layering - a light wool blend with a slip underneath I think ....

Monday, 15 February 2016

KNIT: Seaside Foundry in White Gum Wool

Oh how I have enjoyed knitting as part of a community. I've taken part in 2 KALS, or knit-alongs over on Ravelry since last I wrote. Both were shawls, and both were by Shannon Sanchez Designs.

Foundry is a steampunk inspired design, with rusting rivets, that I simply had to take to the beach.
I had the most fabulous time knitting Foundry, yes, at the beach, being inspired by the constant, reassuring crash of water, the golden sand and the continually changing colours of the waves.
I've used two shades of White Gum Wool, from two talented indie dyers.
Rebecca of Augustbird dyed the Orange Earl as part of her TeaTime club in November 2015 and it  cleverly has subtle orange shades amongst it's green background.
Jenna of Nunnaba released Herbs as part of her 2015 Spiced collection and the blend of blue-green is simply divine.
White Gum Wool, the base that both dyed is simply the snuggliest, squishiest, most divine soft wool I've ever caressed. It does help that it comes from happy Tasmanian sheep, raised by Nan and processed sustainably in NZ. I first heard of WGW when SewJillian posted her shade card on Instagram. I simply had to get one of my own, read all of Nan's blog posts, and when it arrived, promptly knitted up all of the swatch card and went searching for semi-solid colours, which led me to Augustbird and Nunnaba ;)
Knitting Foundry was a series of 4 clues over 4 weeks, and they were big! First was to cast on over 300 stitches, definitely a record for me, by about 200.... Jenny taught me the long-tail cast on & I used both ends of my ball of Nunnaba Herbs, very uneventful and took a bit over an hour, phew!

My first KAL? It was for the mystery ArtDeco inspired garter stitch short-row shawl Lucky in September 2015. I knew what Foundry would look like when finished, for Lucky, it was a mystery until I'd finished clue 4. I learnt a lot knitting Lucky, especially different types of short rows (German suits me) and Judy's magic cast on (it's magical, I love it!).
Stretching Lucky on the line
I also learnt that I like BIG shawls and scarves, so that's why I chose to make the fingering/4ply Foundry in DK/8ply.
2.10m along the bottom edge, oh yeah!

My Ravelry Notes for Foundry:
I like the description of Foundry as a sampler, I learnt bobbles, i-cord cast-off edge, beading, lace, a long-tail cast-on of over 300 stitches and making a fingering shawl in DK ;) It was lots of fun.
Total size 82" across the top edge and 12"wide at the centre, perfect and as I hoped.
Total wool used 414m
Herbs (Nunnaba blue-green) - 86g (200m) (14g left)
Orange Earl (Augustbird Green) - 91g (214m) (9g left)
28/1/16: clue 3 done. Have 26g each of herbs and orange earl left. Used herbs for all of clues 1&2, orange earl for clue 3. I await clue 4…
27/1/16: mid way through the short rows of clue 3. Put on a double cable and I love the length!
My lace is an organic interpretation, rather than the patterns gridded metal, I can only improve with each lace project. And my first beads were slow but not too fiddly… (used a piece of metal wire prethreaded in batches and bent through each bead as I placed them)
12/1/16: finished clue 1.
Around 90” bottom edge length in Dk, perfect. 305 stitches. My first bobbles! Love it & am really happy I’ve opted for Dk. I didn’t do the beaded picot cast on, just a long-tail as I may find myself playing yarn chicken with the 2 green skeins. (used 50g) 
And a huge Thank You to Jenny who hung out at the beach with me and took these shots on an awesome photo shoot day!