Sunday, January 13, 2019

Yet Another Shirt

Hello, my dears! Yes, I’ve been somewhat busy. My sister was visiting for a week or so and you know how that goes, right? Island Girl in the City! Shopping for things she can’t buy at home, visiting places she wanted to see, going to the dentist and the hairdresser, get the picture. We did have a good crafty session or two in the studio where I managed to finish the last of my previously cut-out sewing projects, another shirt for Thom:

The fabric is a lovely soft cotton/linen herringbone twill (a black cotton warp and a half-bleached linen weft). He picked it out specially for a shirt so even though I was tempted to sew something for myself, I made the huge sacrifice (heh!) and sewed yet another Fairfield Button-up. This time I made a squared pocket, cuffs and ends on the sleeve plackets. Gotta keep each one different! He put it on the minute I was done and barely took it off for the next several days. It’s already gone through the laundry. I think that means it’s a hit, huh?

I was happy to be able to use my new straight stitch foot and throat plate for this project since it’s all straight stitching up until the buttons and buttonholes at the end. Yes, I finally got the hardware to attach to the throat plate that mysteriously didn’t come with the darn thing. My vendor (Toews Sewing in Abbotsford, BC) was very helpful and managed to find all the little bitty pieces for me, package them up and mail them including all the tiny little screws and an extra bobbin cover too. Only took me a few minutes and one of Thom’s wee screwdrivers to fix it:

I think this setup gave me more control over my seam allowances and top-stitching. I’m just so pleased because I was never able to get many extra feet or other accessories for my old machine. They were expensive at the time and I didn’t have a lot of spare cash. Also snap-on feet are so much quicker and easier than screwing them on and off. I’ve taken advantage of many of the specialty feet for my new machine and have been pretty happy with the results. On this make I also used my new button foot that has a rubbery coating and a wide open space so it holds the buttons, even little shirt buttons, secure and you can easily see what you’re doing. Definitely worth the price of admission. I also had to make the bottom button on the front of his shirt different because I was one button short. It tucks into his jeans so you can’t see it anyhow.

Anyhow, it worked well and now I’m considering my next pile of projects. Lots to choose from but first I need to do some assembly and fitting changes on a few patterns. I’m really finding batch processing is working well for me. As long as I make a point of finishing up the pile before I make a new one! In the past, I’ve left things cut out but not sewn too long so that my needs and tastes changed before the garment got made. Not good. However, I’ve been very consistent in the past couple of years and even though it might take a couple of months between cutting out and sewing up, it does all get done in the end.

I’ve also been concentrating more on making things for Thom since I have plenty of wearing options and he doesn’t. I’ve now made 5 shirts and he still could use one or two more. Plus the pullovers/sweatshirts he likes to wear in winter (when he isn’t wearing the handspun sweaters I made hime) are pretty much down to a single one. That’s the next thing on my agenda anyway so he at least has another to switch off with. And then there’s the Peacoat Project. I have two new books on tailoring now which should boost my confidence somewhat. This is going to be Slow Sewing for sure. Stay tuned.

The weather has been pretty mild and alternating rain and sun. We’ve been trying to get out s much as possible for long walks. Here’s the scene yesterday on the Fraser River walk:

Monday, December 31, 2018

Year of Going Deeper

After yesterday’s pondering, I saw a post by David from entitled “Why The Depth Year Was My Best Year”. And of course it resonated with my current situation exactly! He of course started last year so, no surprise, I’m a bit late to the party but it’s not as if this whole subject hasn’t been on my mind for awhile now. The essence for me is that instead of always going for the new thing, take what you already have and explore it in depth. I’ve kind of been heading that way anyhow in trying to use stuff that’s already in the stash, not taking any new classes, buying way less craft books, concentrating on a few skills and not starting so many new projects until the previous ones are finished. I need to take it further though into other areas of my life. I’m pretty good at being in the moment and appreciating where I am right now, but I can always improve, no? Yes! And “divestment” still fits in there as well, just a little less starkly. Got my theme for 2019 now. Thanks, David.

Meanwhile, it’s cold and sunny on this last day of December 2018. Here’s my smiling face and an OOTD for you:

The turtleneck is ancient and faded but it still gets plenty of wear when it’s cold in my house. The baggy pants are nearly as ancient, cheerfully referred to as my Clown Pants. And the sweater is my Licorice Tunic Vest (Ebony by Cristina Ghirlanda) in handspun wool. It’s in aran-weight yarn on big needles and very toasty. I’ll be donning more woollies before heading out for a walk after lunch.

Bye-bye, 2018!!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Backwards & Forwards

My Instagram Best Nine - just in case you missed it!

In this in-between week most people spend some time reviewing the year that has passed and looking to see what’s coming up in the next one. I called 2018 the Year of the Slug in recognition of my efforts to slow down, take time, step back from depressing world news and nest. I really thought I was doing a good job of acting slug-like: lots of time spent in the hammock as well as the garden and the studio. I actually read 165 books! That was 15 books past the 150 I had challenged myself with on Goodreads. Yikes! All frivolous ones naturally. That’s just the way I roll.

However I surprised myself even more by counting 41 projects finished! And here I thought everything was taking forever and I made lots of mistakes especially in my knitting that had to get pulled out and started over. It took 6 months just for the Lacca Laneway dress alone. And then there was the old sewing machine that wouldn’t feed and the leaking iron too. Not to mention the summer heat and smoke that made my studio unpleasant to work in for several months. Amazing that so much managed to get to the finish line in spite of the difficulties. I am nothing if not persistent!

So what did I make? 1 woven blanket, 1 sweater’s worth of spun yarn, 5 sweaters, 3 pairs of socks, 2 shawls, 1 coffee cosy, 8 tops, 11 tunics/dresses, 3 pants/shorts, 2 skirts, 3 bras and a pyramid. 11 items were for Thom, the blanket for both of us and the pyramid for his mom. Otherwise it was all for me-me-me! Interestingly the number of things I’ve been making for Thom has been rising quickly. I guess I’m inspired by how much he actually has been wearing the things I’ve made him. I have at least 4 more for him waiting in the queue too.

Speaking of me-mades, here’s my last one of the year, Katherine Tilton’s Butterick 6138:

It’s actually much closer to black than the medium grey it looks here. I apologise for putting it on Debbie Double but I was too lazy to get dressed and trying to catch the elusive winter light so you could see the details on this dark plaid wool suiting. I already made this tunic or dress or vest (what would you call it?) in natural linen for summer so this is my winter version! This is project number 13 for my new Janome sewing machine and the first for my new CHI iron. The suiting is quite crisp so hard to get a really smooth pressing on the seams. They look good when steamed but slowly go right back to where they want to be. Good old worsted wool! I even washed and dried this fabric in the machine before cutting it out and it didn’t even notice. No dry cleaning for this garment.

So now we look forward. What’s coming up? Darned if I know for sure! I haven’t got a word or a theme for 2019 yet. Although I have been thinking more and more about starting to unload some of the supplies around here that I know I’m not ever going to use. The hard part is just going through it all and making decisions. Not that I have trouble knowing what I don’t want to keep exactly. Just that I don’t really know how to get rid of it in the best way. I do know that back in the day I was very grateful for free or cheap supplies from fellow crafty people who were downsizing their own stash. And I would like to do the same for someone else. There is a lot of potential tied up here that would be lovely to let go to another who could use it rather than have it sit here gathering dust. Unfortunately I’m not at all interested in listing any of it online or having a garage sale or anything that takes time and effort. I just want it gone, either for free or a small donation and then somebody else can figure out what to do with it. I’ve already got someone willing to take the lacemaking stuff. Now I need to think about the beadwork supplies. Much money invested in this lot so I can’t just dump it. Oh, and my 14-year-old granddaughter just got her first sewing machine so she can have first pick on excess fabrics. More to ponder as time goes on. Hey, maybe I just found my word for the year:


Sounds a bit ominous though, doesn’t it? I have no plans to get rid of everything!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Hot & Steamy

Hope everyone had a peaceful and safe Solstice/Christmas/Yule or whatever you might celebrate this time of year! Mine was lovely with lots of family, food, laughter and no drama. It’s all good, right? Now I can go back to being a semi-hermit! Yay.

In the Buy Your Own Presents Department, I usually avoid shopping like the plague this time of year but I finally decided that my old Black & Decker iron needed replacement. I did everything I could to clean it but it was piddling all over my sewing and not turning off when it should. I’m not sure of its actual age but it’s probably 20 years old if it’s a day. Doesn’t owe me anything, does it? It’s been a good beast but it was past time for a replacement. A sewist needs a functional iron! I did all the usual online research, reading reviews and checking prices and availability. Irons all seem to have rave reviews right next to don’t-buy-this-piece-of-crap. Either there are a lot of lemons or a lot of trolls dissing everything. Who to believe?

I wanted a mid-range mechanical “professional” steam iron with all the usual adjustable temps, steam, spray, extra shot of steam etc. How hard can it be to get one that works properly for a reasonable price? There are quite a number of brands but most of them are manufactured in the usual China. I’ve had good luck with Black & Decker in the past but their current models didn’t get particularly glowing reviews. I didn’t want a digital iron or a retractable cord so that narrowed the field somewhat. After dithering for a couple of weeks (and cursing my old iron roundly every time I used it) I finally settled on this one:

CHI model 13101. Twice the price of a cheap iron but half the price of a comparable Rowenta and on sale so right in my ballpark. It’s not a brand I was familiar with but apparently they originated with hair straightening irons and branched out to clothing irons. Kind of sporty looking, isn’t it? The base is titanium infused ceramic and has lots and LOTS of steam holes:

No dropping this thing on the floor, huh? There are several things I like about this iron, a few of which I didn’t realise until I used it for the first time during my last sewing session. It has a swivel cord which is 10’ long, 2’ longer than my old one. The cord seems to get in the way less often. It takes a couple of minutes to heat up to temperature which is quite long to wait but it doesn’t spit or drip. On the other hand, it will wait a whole 30 minutes before beeping to warn you it’s going to turn off. Most irons only wait 10 or 15 minutes to shut off so you’re always waiting for it to heat up again while sewing. It’s slightly lighter than my old iron but not significantly so. I like a medium-heavy iron weight because I prefer not to press down too hard which hurts my neck. The sole is very narrow at the front with a really nice “nose” that gets into tight areas easily. The best discovery is the fact that the steam doesn’t shoot out ahead of the nose so I can fiddle with folding hems and not get my pinkies burnt. So helpful!

The only negatives I’ve noticed are the temperature and steam dials are kind of flimsly lightweight metal. Also the water intake hole is quite small and the red water window is rather difficult to actually see the water level through. I have to pour carefully when filling it. Minor quibbles though really. I’m not very hard on equipment so now we’ll just see how long it lasts. It has a 2-year warrenty against defects but you’re responsible for postage both to and from the head office in Virginia, not especially cheap from Canada. Anyway, I’ve named it Chi-Long (energy dragon) because it talks to itself with little crackling steam noises while it’s waiting for me to pick it up and use it. So go use it, damselfly...

I have a review of my year’s Finished Objects coming up soon! Stay tuned.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Solstice!!!

Here in the Northern Hemisphere we’re welcoming the return of the sun. Yay!! And today the sun was out for awhile so we actually got to see some of that new light! It’s been so dark. At our latitude the sun doesn’t rise until after 8am and it starts to get dark around 3:30pm. Add deep rain clouds to that recipe and it feels like you’re locked in a closet! The house lights are on nearly all the time just so I can see what I’m doing.

Speaking of weather, yesterday we had one of those once a decade crazy wind storms that knocked out trees and power lines, shut down the ferry system and even killed one man over on Vancouver Island. Yikes! Our house weathered everything just fine except for the usual twigs breaking off the walnut tree and scattering all over the yard. We didn’t even lose power. It helps that we’re on a really stable power grid that also feeds several hospitals in the area. It was a little bit scary though listening to the big gusts of over 100kph rattling over the house.

Meanwhile, I was in deep maker mode in the studio. My 90-year-old mother-in-law recently got an iPad so she could read e-books from the library. Her vision is deteriorating and the eye specialist recommended a tablet. We’ve been trying to convince her for years but she was adamantly against anything resembling a computer! Took the doc to get her to even consider it. Thom set it up for her so that it’s very simple and on his weekly visits he uses his iPhone as a hot spot and downloads any books she wants. She’s currently addicted to Sudoku! Who knew eh?

So in honour of Mom’s new entry into the 21st century (LOL!!) I made her a pyramid rest for her iPad:

I used some vintage bark cloth from stash along with all the usual stuffing, mat board for the bottom and a stablizing rock. Hers isn’t as heavy as mine and it was somehow a lot easier to sew this fabric than it was the heavy upholstery swatches that I used for the first two pyramids I made. Or maybe it’s Janny, my new sewing machine? This only took a couple of hours after I dug out all the materials and most of that was hand-sewing up the final bottom seam. I don’t even have a pattern anymore since I can’t find where I stashed it. Or even where it came from originally. I think it was a magazine article. Anyway, I’ve added my own tweaks so I just wing it with a ruler and a rotary cutter. The pyramid is a great help on your lap or table to hold up your screen and save your wrists from fatigue and pain. I use mine every single day.

I finally finished that knitting project that got stuck on my needles for half a year! Behold the Lacca Laneway:

This thing gave me so much trouble! Nothing at all wrong with the pattern (Laneway by Veera Valimaki) but my attention. It was a LOT of round-and-round stockinette stitch so I was merrily reading, watching TV or chatting while knitting. Yarns twisted. Mistakes happened. Frogging ensued. Re-knitting occurred. Finally finished and got all the ends worked in. After blocking I realised that as usual with superwash wool and nylon sock yarn, it relaxed and stretched lengthwise. So now it’s more of a dress than a tunic. You’d think I would learn after so much knitting, wouldn’t you? I could have saved myself several inches worth of work! Oh well. It’s perfectly wearable even if the pockets are too low.

The other FO is my Violet Tie-Dye V-Neck Alder Dress:

I used Grainline’s V-Neck online tutorial to hack the pattern. It simplifies the dress quite a lot. I also made a few more fit tweaks from the first version and I think it’s just about perfect now. A little longer in the skirt and the waist raised slightly, plus the darts lowered and a small slice out of the underarm. Now I can also wear it as a jumper. Since I finished a summer dress in winter it’s good to be able to layer it up until it warms up enough to wear it solo, no?

In other news, I bought myself a present: yet more bra supplies from the aptly-named Bra-makers Supply in Hamilton, ON. This time I went for some closer to skin-neutral (for my skin at least) colour, called “light copper”:

It’s a little darker than “beige” which you can see in the foam padding at the far left. I wanted to make a few bras that worked better under lighter or slightly more sheer fabrics than my usual black, brown, black cherry etc. (I’m not particularly a fan of white bras although I also have some stash supplies for one, I think.) I also got some more elastics and hardware in black:

So I now have enough parts for a whole bunch of new Ingrid bras but unfortunately they’re going to have to wait for a little while while I finish a few other sewing projects first. I have 2 garments cut out ages ago and still waiting and I haven’t even started sticking the pattern pages together yet for Thom’s Peacoat. Always lots lined up in the Making Queue!

Wishing you and your loved ones all the peace and joy of the season - and none of the headaches and big bills!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Seeing In The Dark

Winter, as we usually see it here, is in full spate! Rain, rain, wind, more rain, and dark-dark-dark. The basement is springing a few leaks which it only does if we get more than our usual rainfall in a very short time. The biggest leak is in our cold-room under the front stairs where the concrete floor is currently a swimming pool for the monster spiders and their prey, the wood lice, who live in there. Luckily we never keep anything on the floor to get wet. Wine bottles, canning jars, potatoes, onions, pop cans and the like are safely on shelves above the swamp. There’s good air circulation in this little room because it was properly vented but if it doesn’t dry up in a reasonable length of time, we’ll be using the wet/dry shop vac to suck it out. Better than the other leak in Thom’s woodworking room. The walls and floor are more finished and there’s a lot more stuff on the floor. He says he’s monitoring it and mopping up as necessary. I hope.

Meanwhile photography has been rather difficult when it looks like twilight in the middle of the day. I managed to get a picture of the finished Coffee Cosy that I made the other day when it was sunny out for awhile:

When our fancy-schmancy electronic coffee maker croaked, instead of getting a similar replacement Thom decided a Bodum French press would do the trick. Since he’s the only one who drinks coffee around here and we have to boil the kettle for my morning tea anyway, it works just fine for our needs. However he needed the pot to stay warm until he was ready for his second cup, hence the cosy. I used the same pattern that I did before for my French press for tea that we keep in the VW Westie for camping. “Thinking About Coffee” by Lisa Risager is a free pattern I found on Ravelry but this time I didn’t have any bulky handspun so I used 2 yarns from deepest stash held together. One was a blue-grey 2-ply (possibly Condon’s) wool and a handspun Romney rainbow chain-ply. The results turned out fine though it took quite a lot of work to full it sufficiently and it’s still too long. Probably because I knitted several more rows before the decreases than I should have since I was chatting with friends at the time! I just turned up a cuff. Problem solved.

I also finished my Lacca Laneway sweater but it’s taking forever to dry after blocking. Also, dark. I hope to grab a photo whenever things lighten up enough. I really like it although it’s more like a dress than a tunic. The pockets are a little low even though I raised them an inch (my T-Rex arms!) and the sleeves gave me trouble before I was done. The pattern had them at a full length but I wanted my more comfortable 3/4 sleeves. Somehow I forgot to make a note and edit the pattern accordingly. In the end there was a ridiculous amount of frogging and reknitting various parts of this beast mostly from not paying enough attention to what I was doing. I used the last of the darker lac red for the pockets but ran out with a couple of inches to go so I finished them in the lighter mauve. The red is the part you can glimpse while wearing anyway. All together it took me almost 6 months to finish. That’s a long slog for me even for a fine gauge sweater dress.

So since you aren’t getting much in the way of project photos I thought I would talk about my personal style. Now that nearly all of my wardrobe is handmade, I’ve been trying out new combinations of garments. My chilly winter house has encouraged the layering! Interestingly there aren’t that many sewists or knitters who show a similar style to mine and if they do, their body shape is usually differently proportioned than I am. That said, I do take elements of style and inspiration from several sources. My favourite tool that I like to use to hunt down and save ideas is good old Pinterest. Another tool is OneNote which I use as a large whiteboard to stick photos and notes for further consideration. I used to use Evernote (free version) but the combination of Pinterest and OneNote seems to work better for me. YMMV as they say.

Anyway, one person whom I discovered on Pinterest (and can find nowhere else) who’s style I admire is Elizabeth Eins:

Elizabeth (who I think is from Germany) wears a lot of Gudrun Sjödén:

And Ewa I Walla:

Both of those are Swedish designers whose clothes I like to peruse. Some individual pieces or occasional combinations from other designers appeal to me too. This one is Krista Larson:

I love the tie-dye in this one but sometimes her stuff can be too much for me. I can’t handle a lot of frou-frou! Another design house that can have great pieces and combos but also can be over-the-top is Studio Rundholz:

This summer style is more restrained but brighter than usual! I also am fond of a lot of the Japanese styles but sadly can’t really wear them since most are designed for a less curvy body type than mine. Check this Dark Mori (forest girl style) out though:

She’s got the layering thing going bigtime! Sadly I am not happy in too many layers and also prefer my shoulders and arms to fit more closely than a lot of the Lagenlook styles. Some things are just too baggy all over like this outfit from Kaliyana:

It has some good elements but I would take down the volume a lot. It’s a good thing I sew (and knit) because there is no way I could dress the way I prefer otherwise!

Anyway this is getting rather long and I think I’ve babbled on enough. I hope you’ve enjoyed my wee tour of some of my clothing inspiration. I have to go turn on some more lights now. I’m so looking forward to Solstice and the return of the sun. Only another week to go.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Just Sewing (No Knitting)

Hello, my little twinkle lights! Hope all you Northern Hemisphere folks are staying warm & comfy practicing your hygge and the Southern Hems are staying cool & hydrated! It’s been rather dark and rainy around here but luckily I don’t suffer from SAD, I just use this quieter time to get in the studio. Lots of good lights are mandatory though! I’m sure you want to find out how the bra making has been going, no?

I finished 2 more Ingrid bras since the last post. The first was black & brown:

The brown was a piece of duoplex left from a past bra making effort and the brown elastics and findings were a set from Bra-makers Supply that was supposed to be for the Pin-Up Girls Classic bra. I just subbed in some fold-over elastic instead of the decorative elastic in the kit and left out the underwire channelling and the bow. The power net is black because that’s what I have so this bra is completely from stash on hand.

The second bra was the Black Cherry which included everything matching from my last order from BMS.

I really got way too much duoplex and power net because I was going by the estimates on the pattern which are obviously for the largest sizes. I wanted at least 2 bras but I could make a half-dozen or more from 1M of duoplex and .5M of power net! But I would obviously need more findings since I only got one Black Cherry kit. Instead I dyed some FOE and a hook & eye so I could complete a soft navy blue findings set:

Nylon dyes quite nicely with acid dyes in the craft microwave. I think this will look nice with the black cherry, yes? And then I have one more option for a lacey-ish black bra before I have to order more parts. With all of the Canada Post disruptions this isn’t a particularly good time for mail order so I’ll give it all a chance to cool down first.

So I never did get a photo of Thom in his 4th Thread Theory Fairfield Button-up shirt. Here’s a hanger version even though it’s already been worn, washed and ironed once already:

Yeah, not exciting, I know. Grey linen (exactly like the green stuff of his last shirt) on a grey day. The buttons were rescued from a worn-out shirt and match perfectly. I made a single rounded pocket and rounded cuffs to match. Otherwise, same old same old. He loves his Fairfields!

And speaking of sewing for Thom, we were watching the new season of Shetland on Netflix and he suddenly decided he needed a peacoat like Jimmy Perez wears all the time. Luckily Thread Theory has the Goldstream Peacoat:

And also conveniently had a (dare I say it) Black Friday sale so I bought the pattern. 99-gazillion pages to assemble! Lots of tailoring, interfacings and linings and buttons and such. Oy. We’ve already found the fabrics for it at good old Dressew:

You might not be able to tell but the wool blend melton is a dark olive green and the lining for the body is a quilting cotton with a cabin in the woods, bears, moose, deer and eagles. I’ll go digging in the deep stash for something more slippery for the sleeves though. The buttons are from stash and belonged to his auntie. I’ve even got some hair canvas and plan to make the shoulder pads myself. This beast is going to be a lot of work but it should last him forever. The man has definitely proven that he’s Sew-Worthy because he loves and, most importantly, actually wears what I make him. Pretty soon he’ll have a mostly wife-made wardrobe. Heh.

So that’s not all! I needed a palate cleanser after making 3 bras in a row (whew!) so I finished sewing another York Pinafore that had already been cut out.

Persimmon Head!, this was a quick photo before I lost the light so I just popped the pinny on over my t-shirt dress. I love the pannier pockets! They’re from the York Apron add-on pattern. Do not tell me they aren’t flattering to the hips. I don’t care. They’re so practical! Wish I had this York back when the garden was in full production but there’s always next year, right?

The fabric was a 1M piece of black/grey denim with an abstract print. It’s much lighter weight denim than my first York. I just barely squeezed the pattern in with only tiny scraps left. Not shown is the bias binding I made from a wee piece of grey and black striped cotton/poly. I love using up stash. With this third version I think I have the York fitting just the way I like it now. More to come in future. I love that it’s so practical, takes very little fabric and works with either heavy or lighter weight materials.

So lastly I do NOT want to discuss my knitting. It’s still giving me fits. Things keep going wrong. I haven’t come close to finishing anything. I have no idea why that should be so. But I’m not giving up. Just taking time to cool off.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this lovely photo from the False Creek Seawall on our way to Granville Island on Tuesday. Gotta get out while the getting is good! The tide was extra high (called King Tides) and, goodness me, there are an awful lot of highrises downtown now. Looks lovely there but it rained on us just three blocks from home on the way back. Ah, Vancouver.