Thursday, May 31, 2012

MMM: the finale and analysis (with gratuitous duckling)

MMM Day 30

Me-madeself-drafted tee and mushroom-print Colette Ginger skirt

Special effort made:  Shoes with heels!  These were always intended to be the slightly-smarter equivalent of my brown cowboy boots, but I always automatically reach for the comfy old boots.  I couldn't do that this time, as the boots need to go to the cobbler.

MMM Day 31

Me-made:  Shorts (Simplicity 2654) and hooded t-shirt (Mccall's 4322 from the 1970's).

Special effort made:  I washed my hair... that's about it!  Not the most flattering self-portrait ever, but I was in a rush after rescuing a duckling that got stuck in the herb garden fence! (See below.)

So... that's May done.
As is traditional in the midst of a me-made, self-stitched challenge, I will now disappear in a puff of over-thinking as I stare at a month's worth of What I Wore.

Most worn:
Eva Dress trousers:  4 times
Betsey Johnson trousers:  4 times
2 Senchas in Liberty lawn:  3 times and 2 times
1 Lisette Portfolio blouse:  3 times
3 Ginger pattern skirts:  6 times (twice each)

Trouser-wearing days total: 10
Skirts total:  8
Shorts total:  4
Dresses total:  3  (if we don't count the days I made one!)
Days when I did not bother with extensive me-madery (all at weekends):  6?  but I was making on all those days and still had on me-made socks and knickers!

Most worn NOT me-made:
Lime green cashmere vintage cardigan:  6 times
...compared to Audrey-in-Unst:  4 times
Days when no cardigan worn at all:  3

Any surprise "hit"s?
My polka dot and ric-rac blouse is much more wearable than I thought, now that I have stitched down the facings properly.  I wore it twice.

Any notable "misses"?
The white-collared pink gingham blouse.  It has already gone to the charity shop:  bye bye!
My grey Portfolio trousers.  You didn't see them this month.  I tried to wear them on three separate occasions and knew I could not face a whole day in them.  The rise is too high.  Wriggle.  Maybe I will break them in at the weekend when I know I can change into something more forgiving if I need to!
I don't like mid-length skirts on me anymore.

Gratuitous duckling photo - aw, bless!
The To-Do List?

My black Japanese pattern trousers are a saggy-bummed disaster but so practical that I keep wearing them - I really really need to make another pair of black trousers.  At once!

I didn't get round to making any jewellery and I have a growing collection of single earrings.  I wear the same few pairs every day.  Yawn.

I need to get my vintage brown cowboy boots re-heeled.  I love them.  I miss them.  Sob!

There are a few things I realised didn't like any more and couldn't bring myself to wear.  I need to refashion them... or ditch them.

I need to line my black Meringue skirt.  Urgently.

The Conclusions?

I could have another big clear out and not miss the pile of things I never wear.
I don't really miss shop-bought clothes.
I thought 1940's style was "my era"... but it might actually be the 1970's.  Blimey - that'll lose me a lot of blog-readers!
I am ready to try something new.  Shorts were a revelation - what's next?  A Maxi dress?!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Me Made May: Are We There Yet?

Almost there!  Just two more days and Me Made May will be over.  This is scary - that means it is almost June: the month of multiple family birthdays; the month when my daughter has induction at her London Sixth Form College;  the month when I really must face up to the approaching reality of a child-free home.
In the past week, the sunshine caught me off guard, and overnight the temperature went from 4 degrees C to 20 degrees C.  I took my cardigan off for the first time in forever!  And then it was back to a more normal 7 degrees.
I realised that:   I don't have any thin socks or tights;  that bare feet can't come out until I paint my toe-nails; and that I honestly don't know what to wear in hot weather.

MMM Day 22:
I finished sewing my Desperately Seeking top.  That counts doesn't it?

MMM Day 23:

In the Hood, 23 May 2012
Me-made:  hooded t-shirt (Mccalls 4322 from 1974) and Betsey Johnson pattern trousers (Butterick 3289, also from the 1970's)
Special effort made:  When did I last wear my Tara Starlet jacket?  This was actually an effort to wear a NOT me-made garment.  I reckon the hood on the t-shirt saves this from looking like I am wearing half a trouser suit!  I really need to wear this jacket a lot more because it is really nice and it wasn't cheap.

MMM Day 24:
Flat as a Pancake Day, 24 May 2012
Me-made:  Desperately Seeking top (Female Spring 2012, page 104) and Japanese pattern trousers (from "Dresses from the 1960's Movies").
Special effort made:  Took the risk to bare rather a lot of neck and shoulder to work as I was also meeting an old colleague for lunch at the beach.  The BEACH?!  It was seriously hot despite the haar over the sea.  There were some raised eyebrows at work but I was cool and comfortable. Lost my bust somewhere along the way but that's fashion, darlings! ; )

MMM Day 25:
Sunshine at 7am, 25 May 2012
Me-made:  Sencha blouse in Liberty tana lawn and Eva Dress 1940's trousers.
Special effort made:  Standby "smart enough for The Boss" outfit as I had an 8.30am audience with Himself all by myself (gulp!).  I still have a job, so I must have done something right (joke!).

MMM Days 26 and 27:
Hmmm. Another weekend of using the production of clothing as an excuse not to wear me-made!  Finished my second Darling Ranges Dress.

MMM Day 28:
Hey shorty, 28 May 2012
Me-made:  Japanese pattern dress from the book "Sewing Lesson" (on sale in my Etsy shop!)
Special Effort Made:  I dug out my last bag of summer clothes, and decided to rehabilitate this dress, which comes from an earlier stage in my style evolution (snort!).  What I mean is... I'm not sure this is "me" anymore.  However, comrades in the Flickr MMM group were very supportive.  I dunno.  It comes from my days of long hair in plaits... you know, when I was still in my early forties.  I also think it might be time to ditch the fishnets?

MMM Day 29:
Oh Hi Colleagues, 29 May 2012
Me-made:  Lisette Portfolio blouse (again!) and Betsey Johnson 70's trousers (again!)... though maybe I haven't worn them together before?
Special effort made:  My new (second hand) cardigan arrived!  Yay!  And while it was made in China, and I am suffering guilt pangs for not checking its origins before I bid on it, I have to say it is lovely.  Very soft, beautifully-finished and warm.  And that is a major consideration up here, because it was only 7 degrees again today.  I am ignoring  The Girl who says it is a Christmas jumper because the pattern is of snowflakes and pine trees and they are red and green.  No, they are not - they are coral and teal! ; )

Two days to go.  Hope these Flickr pics are working because I can't get up enough steam on my home broadband to post photos direct.  It may have something to do with the two Computer Arts students living upstairs!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

FO: Bluebirds and Pansies Darling Ranges Dress


Pattern:  Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen, size XS
Fabric:  Viscose filament twill with bluebirds and pansies print, £13.50 for 2.5 metres, but I only used 1.7m (found on eebaay)
Other: 12 red buttons from the 1940's, from Clover Crafts and Curios (eebaay seller) £3.20 for 16.

What I did differently:

Last time I used this pattern, I wasn't completely happy with the fit of the bodice.

This time I made the following alterations:

To the darts:
  • Lowered them by 1.2cm
  • Narrowed them to measure 3cm either side of the central line (instead of 4cm)
  • Lengthened them by 3cm along the central line

To the back bodice
Darling Ranges Two
  • Lengthened it by 2.5cm to fit the fronts at the side seams
To the shoulders:
  • Took 2.5cm seams and cut away the excess fabric
To the waist:
  • Added a length of cotton tape to the edge of the bodice as I stitched the waist seam, to support the weight of the skirt
To the skirt:
  • Cut it in one piece to omit side seams
To the sleeves:
  • Lengthened them by 4.5cm
Darling Ranges Two
To the neck:
  • Stay-stitched the edge before I added the bias binding (top tip - thanks Dixie!)
To the front facings:
  • Stitched a length of 1-inch wide cotton tape inside the facings to reinforce the buttons and buttonholes
To the hem:
  • Used the same satin bias binding I used for the neck facing to finish the hem.


Darling Ranges Two, 27 May 2012
I fell for this fabric the moment I laid eyes on it, and knew it would make a lovely swishy dress.

However, it was very slippery to work with, and I added reinforcing lines of cotton tape wherever I could, to help support the weight evenly as it felt like it would stretch out otherwise.  That's why I cut the skirt in one piece, to avoid saggy side seams.

I may have cut the back bodice slightly too wide due to the fabric slippage issue, but it is drapey enough for me to get away with it. Back darts might have been a good idea, but it's OK.

When I read the list of alterations I made, it sounds a bit intimidating, but I still reckon this pattern has a lot to offer a non-expert sewist.  The instruction booklet and Megan's sewalong blog posts cover all the construction and fit details you could ever need.
Personally, I learned an awful lot from re-drafting the bodice to personalise the fit.  I feel ready to tackle a more complicated dress now, instead of sticking to separates out of fear of the unknown world of bodices!

The only thing I would do differently next time is to stitch up most of that buttoned front instead of working 12 blinking buttonholes which I will never need to open or close!  There is half a day's needless work right there!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This is Summer

Astonishingly, it is hot.

My garden is in shock:  alliums are collapsing under the weight of their own flowerheads, desperate for a drink.

Starlings are nesting in the eaves and wake The Girl at 5am.
The pheasants woke me this morning at 5.30 and I almost considered getting up there and then, as the sun was streaming through the curtains.  But I managed to hold out until 6.30.

The washing was on the line by 7 and I was painting the bathroom by 8.

Then there was intensive cleaning and tidying and squirrelling-away of things that didn't ever need to be where I found them.  The Sofa of Doom has been cleared!  I washed the throw and the cushion-covers and I scoured the floor.

Raspberry, Blueberry and Lime Drizzle Cake has been baked.  There is a chilli in the slow cooker.

At 3.30, The Boy and His Girl arrived with all their worldy goods and set up house in his childhood bedroom for the summer.  There are unusually-sized boots in the hallway.  The dog is running this way and that, in confusion.

The next few weeks will be a patchwork of children arriving and departing, with music festivals to attend and visits to be made to other outposts of this crazy mixed-up family.   FL and I will be here, waiting.  Getting on with the everyday as the young people come and go.  A quiet summer at home this year, I think.  Watching the barley grow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hoodwinked by Heritage

Clearly I live under a rock.  Despite being surrounded on a daily basis by hundreds of Bright Young Things, I have managed to remain ignorant one of their favourite clothing brands:  Jack Wills.  True, I have seen some perma-tanned girlies wearing "Wills" sweatshirts, micro-shorts and sequinned flipflops during Freshers Week... but I actually thought this meant they were Royal Wedding supporters. Wrong!

Let me introduce you to Jack Wills (from their website): 

 "Jack Wills launched in 1999 in Salcombe, Devon, designing British heritage-inspired goods for the university crowd. Today we continue to be influenced by the best of British, from our history and culture to sporting and country pursuits. We take pride in using the finest quality materials, techniques and design to deliver our distinctive connection between the old and new; epitomising what it is to be young and Fabulously British.

From the iconic British university towns of Oxford and Cambridge to the ivy league campus' of Harvard and Yale, Jack Wills has been travelling the globe proudly planting the Union Jack at over 60 stores and counting; including UK, Ireland, USA and Hong Kong."

Apparently, this company hands out free sweatshirts to the Head Girls and Boys of "our" great public (i.e. fee-paying) schools to further promote the brand among its target clientelle.  My daughter tells me that JW hoodies are the garment of choice among the "Popular Girls" at her current school (think "Heathers") despite a hefty price-tag.

Feeling nauseous yet?

Brideshead Revisited, '80's style
I recently read "Starter For Ten" by David Nicholls.  The main character is an ordinary working class lad who gets into Bristol University against the odds and earns the nickname "Brideshead" from his old school mates.  It is a funny, sad and rather entertaining read.  There's a film too, with James McAvoy, but the book is better.  I digress.  My point is:  I am rather "chippy", i.e. I have an enormous working-class chip on my shoulder.  Call me "Brideshead" and I would come after you, swinging my old leather satchel round my head like an Olympic hammer-thrower.

So I am probably the last person you would expect to buy in to this cynical "Fabulously British", "university crowd" marketing ploy.  Right?  Right.

So, the other day I was browsing eebaay in search of a cardigan.  Shall we use the word "vintage"?  Oh yes, do let's!  And I came across a rather lovely fair-isle yoked cardi.  Ooh!  Just the sort of thing I would knit if I had the time!  Oh look - it has bound button-bands!  And dark brown vintagey buttons.  And it's that lovely short length that looks so good with high-waisted skirts and trousers.  It could almost be from the 1940's!  Ooh!  Pure lambswool?  "Brand new, no tags"? I had better bid on that!

So I did.

And I won it.  Yay!  (£23 in case you are interested.)

And then I did my research.  TSK!

The photograph had been"borrowed" from another seller (whose cardi is listed for £80, Buy It Now), and was not a picture of the exact garment up for sale.  When I checked the seller's history, not all items sold had ever been delivered:  there was an ominous pattern of "lost in the post", "not received" issues.  But because the seller had a good buying history, they had lots of stars by their name.  Will I ever get my cardi?  Watch this space!  My daughter's exact words were "You loser!"  Sigh.

But back to the matter at hand...

Where was this "Fabulously British" item made?  CHINA.

I checked the company's Ethical Trade statement:

"Jack Wills is a foundation stage member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, together with other select companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations around the world. We are working towards improving the working lives of employees among our supplier base and business partners."

And I only feel slightly better.

They are opening a store in Kuwait soon.  I had better start queuing now.

Caveat emptor.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

FO: Desperately Seeking Female, Spring 2012

I finished my Desperately Seeking Susan tee tonight.

Sorry about the grainy pictures - I just couldn't wait til morning!

Pattern:  The top on page 104 of Female Spring 2012 (Japanese pattern magazine) size M
Fabric:  1.4m of 150cm wide viscose jersey found on eebaay.  I still have almost a metre left.
Other:  Black satin bias binding for the inside neck.  Black cotton tape to stabilise the shoulders.  Narrow ribbon to finish the inside hem.

Sewing this fabric was much easier than I expected.
Although it was enormously stretchy, the print was so dense that it added much-needed stability.
Even so, I knew I would need to bind the neck with firmly-woven bias binding if I was ever going to keep the top on my shoulders - or one of them at least!
For the same reason, I ran a line of black cotton tape along the inside shoulder seam, to keep the sleeves from stretching out completely.
The sleeve hems have double-thickness cuffs.
My original "concept" was to sew this in neon yellow sweatshirting... but when the fabric arrived it almost blinded me.  Unless I get a job in Road Traffic Control or take up night-running, I really can't imagine wearing anything that bright.
But I couldn't let go of the glow-in-the-dark idea completely.

So I bought some neon-yellow ribbon and used it to reinforce the bottom hem.
You can just catch a glimpse of it when I swish around.
And swishing around is compulsory in this garment!
It is another "going out" top.  This is one for Madonna karaoke evenings.
Hmmm... I don't go to many of those.
It is wonderfully comfortable. It would be lovely to wear somewhere exotic on a sunny day, sipping a cool drink in the shade.
But maybe I will just wear it to work with black trousers ; )

Monday, May 21, 2012

Me Made May Week 3

MMM Day 16
Me made: 
shorts (Simplicity 2654)
self-drafted tee
coat (Japanese pattern from the "Sweet Black" book)
Made by others (thank you!!):
Watch-lace by Scruffy Badger
Susie's Reading Mitts by Christine
Special effort made:  I washed and styled my hair.  Ha!  That'll teach me not to go out in the wind!

MMM Day 17
Skirt (Colette Ginger in lilac corduroy)
Blouse with polka dots and ricrac (Simplicity 1388 from 1955)
Special effort made:  I really wanted to wear this blouse.  I have never tried it with a skirt before.  It works really well with the high waist on a Ginger - woo hoo!  And Scruffy's watch-lace works well at the neck too.  New outfit discovered!  I might have to make another top from this pattern :)

I asked FL to include the bluebells in this picture - they are just off to my right...!

Bluebells - hooray!
MMM Day 18
Trousers (Eva Dress from the 1940s)
Blouse (Sencha in Liberty tana lawn)
Cardigan (Audrey-in-Unst)
Special effort made:  This is a tried-and-true me-made combination whch will be familiar to anyone who was around for my previous me-made challenges.  I still like it!  The only thing I did differently was to add my granny's crystal beads - the short ones.  I don't think I have worn these before, ever, as they are strung on a chain which cuts in to the back of my neck due to the weight of the beads.  However, I got used to it and they looked pretty.  Result!

I am not actually reading "Placenames of Roman Britain", it was on its way back to the library.

MMM Day 19
Shorts (Pattern Runway, sweet scalloped shorts)
Top (Lisette Souvenir with elephant print)
Special effort made:  This is one of my favourite combinations at the moment, but it is rarely appropriate for a 47-year old in a sober occupation to wear such things!  The Girl and I were going into the city to scour the charity shops for clothes for College so I thought "Why not?"
To be honest it was hidden under my long coat for most of the day, but I felt great!  The scarf was a new addition (though I have had it for at least ten years) and helped cover the gaping at the front neck.  If I make this top again I will lose about an inch of width across the square neckband - it is a bit too bare.
Did we find anything for The Girl?  We bought a black dress which has long lace sleeves and a short ruffled skirt.  Not exactly everyday-wear, but it looks cute on her!

MMM Day 20
Dress (Lisette Portfolio in denim)
Special effort made:  Not really.  It was a day of gardening and sewing and I just wanted to feel comfortable in something that would wash easily if I got muddy.  I could so easily have worn a grubby old t-shirt and jeans, so I am pleased that I chose this instead - it really made weeding feel more fun, and less depressing when I met my new neighbours for the first time.
They are very young, glossy and well-heeled with fast cars and expensive sunglasses.  I predict they will last here one winter and one winter only!  This garden is just outside their front door, so I was prepared for complaints about my slowness to weed this year.  Luckily, they are city folks who just see it as "nice and green with pretty flowers" - phew!

MMM Day 21
Blouse (Lisette Portfolio in dobby dot)
Trousers (Eva Dress from the 1940's)
Cardigan (Audrey-in-Unst)
Special effort made:  Today began badly:  a button flew off my lime vintage cardi; then I realised my brown boots were in desperate need of re-heeling and could not be worn; so this was my third outfit choice.
And I had to do an emergency deep-clean of the bathroom before I left the house:  FL is not well.*
So, I was late for work, but at least my hair was clean and I added my vintage bluebird brooch to the blouse.
Fluster, fluster, fluster.

*FL has an upset stomach.  We are now on Day Three.  I wish I could blame his new medicine... but they forgot to put the pills in his doggy bag at the hospital last Tuesday.  I am collecting them later this week.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Photographic Evidence

I have made great progress with my second Darling Ranges dress.  But, sadly, I only have eight of those sizzling raspberry buttons, and I need twelve.  So I have paused to re-group:  search for another card of rasps, or order something completely different?  Pausing is good therapy.

So is knitting.  Knitting is the best therapy I know.  If you turn your head sideways you can see 4 pattern repeats of my yellow cardigan.  See the tulips?

There are tulips in my garden too.  At last a day of sunshine!  More of the same please!

Friday, May 18, 2012

No FOs... but some WIPs to report

It has been a strange couple of weeks in the mind of Roobeedoo.  Perhaps it is a side-effect of Me-Made-May that my stitching had ground to a virtual standstill, while my brain was whirling with ideas....  Ideas which were discarded as soon as I dragged the fabric out of its suitcase.

Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan
Somewhere around the middle of this week, I gave myself a mental boot up the derriere and decided to take the plunge and just start making something, anything.  I went back to my previous plans, and remembered the Desperately Seeking Susan top.  It is a very simple over-sized tee from my Female Spring 2012 Japanese pattern magazine. 

the pattern, Female Spring 2012
 I actually bought some glow-in-the-dark yellow sweatshirting to make this... but it hurt my eyes.  Please stop laughing at me - I stun myself with my own stupidity sometimes!  I have yet to find an alternative use for the hi-viz fabric:  I am pondering using it to line a bag, so that I will never lose anything in the dark depths - smart, huh?!
Viscose jersey
So instead, I decided to tackle my super-stretchy bird print viscose jersey.  The print is thicker than the base fabric, which sounds like a recipe for disaster, but actually gives it much-needed stability.  The garment is almost complete, pending the arrival of some bias binding.  I am very pleased with it, but scared the neck will stretch out completely if I try to put it on before it is bound, so you will have to wait for the FO.

I already mentioned having cut out my tulip skirt.  I ought to get going on this next, as my zips have arrived.  My only concern is that I need to stiffen the shaped waistband, to avoid curling-Ginger-syndrome.  Scruffy Badger used buckram on hers recently... hmmm.  Thinking...

But I think this weekend might involve another Darling Ranges dress...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Me Made May: Week Two

Me Made, 9 May 2012
Cardigan (Betty Jean McNeil from the Family Trunk Project)
Trousers (Betsey Johnson pattern from the 70's, Butterick 3289)
Special effort made:  Amber jewellery, nails still painted turquoise.  This outfit took me to work and back and then out to a lecture on Roman Camps in Scotland with FL (another hot date?!)

Me-Made, 10 May 2012
Coat (Japanese pattern from "Sweet Black" book) - actually worn every day, just not pictured.
Skirt (Colette Meringue from the Sewing Handbook)
Self-drafted tee
Special effort made:  This skirt has still not been lined and creeps up my legs as I walk.  I was hoping that this would annoy me so much that I would line it at the weekend!  The scarf (Laura Ashley charity collaboration with Uniqlo) and vintage cardigan were both attempts to bring coordination to an otherwise dangerously disparate mix of clothing.  The boots are my security blanket of comfort and I think they look cute with a skirt.  The Girl disagrees!

Me-Made, 11 May 2012
Trousers (Japanese pattern from "Dresses from the 60's Movies")
Blouse (Simplicity 5441 from 1964)
Special effort made:  Wearing this top for the first time.  The trousers are made from the same fabric as yesterday's skirt and they creep up my legs as I walk (surprise?!).  I also get a baggy bum and saggy knees after a few hours at my desk.  The facing of the blouse keeps turning to the outside, despite understitching and top-stitching and pressing, and it clings to my tummy, making me feel tubby.  Not my finest hour.  Blah.

Me-Made, 12 and 13 May 2012
Dress (Lisette Portfolio)
Cardigan (Central Park Hoodie)
Hat (Norie by Gudrun Johnston)
Special effort made:  This is real life.  The bucket is my favourite weekend accessory.  I have one for washing (clean) and one for weeding (dirty).  Yes, they do get mixed up occasionally.

 Me-Made, 14 May 2012 (with extra windpower)
Skirt (Colette Ginger)
Blouse (vintage Simplicity 3638 from 1948)
Cardigan (Betty Jean McNeil from the Family Trunk Project)
Special effort made:  A new combination.  The tight cardigan helps control the blouse, which tends to rise upwards and pop out of waistbands.  I think the colours and textures work well together.  You can't see, but the blouse buttons are sewn on with orange thread which colour-connects it with the cardigan without being too "matchy matchy".  I will definitely wear this outfit again!

Me-Made, 15 May 2012
Blouse (Colette Sencha)
Trousers (Betsey Johnson pattern from the 70's, Butterick 3289)
Special effort made:  A new combination.  I have never worn any of these items with each other before.  I love how the lime (vintage cashmere) cardigan picks up the light green in the Liberty print of the Sencha.  And that the Sencha works with these high-waisted trousers.  And that the cardigan works with the trousers (I thought it might be too long and barrel-like).  "Gold" birdcage necklace added for a pinch of quirk.  Really pleased with this one!

Summary of the week?
  • I pushed myself to think up new "outfits" and I am really pleased with Days 14 and 15.
  • That black cotton "with stretch" fabric was a mistake, but the resulting skirt and trousers are both black, which means I wear them a lot - they are just so practical!  Maybe I need to make more black clothes (stop laughing, dear daughter!)
  • Day 10 looks the most like my "usual" style.
  • I could use more colourful silky scarves as they seem to smarten up the most unlikely combinations.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wuthering Weekend

The Farmer's Wife, 12 May 2012
Originally uploaded by ruknits

Another weekend without sewing progress. Sigh.

I did cut out my bluebird pansy tulip skirt - a slippery and exhausting process, even after employing Casey's top tip to lay the fabric on muslin*. It does work, except when your muslin is lumpy underneath and you pin your main fabric to it, then try to get your scissors past the lump. Guess what happens? Yup - your slippery fabric gets pulled out of alignment: Warp Factor Ten. I may have cut a horribly mis-shapen skirt. Time will tell. But I do now know that I have enough of this fabric to make a Darling Ranges dress too - woo hoo!

*Muslin? Ah... I forgot that Casey is American. She meant calico didn't she? Damn, that would lie flat wouldn't it?

The main reason I didn't sew was that the post did not come on Saturday. I was expecting a delivery of invisible zips. FL quipped that they had perhaps arrived and I just hadn't seen them - ho ho ho!

So after doing the chores and taking The Girl for a haircut in the city, I just settled down with my knitting. I have completed three pattern repeats of the Arrowhead Stitch. It is forming stripes of what look to me like yellow tulips. I am concerned that the textured striping is not terribly flattering - the Michelin Man look is not my favourite. But I am not giving up now. It is too soon and too late (if that makes any sense).

Sunday was not much more productive. I was just plain tired. I did some desultory wind-battered weeding in the herb garden and then retreated to the sofa to knit and supply moral support to the revision of Standard Grade Biology and German.

I am reading "Wuthering Heights". Not for the first time, I cannot get my head round who is who. This is ridiculous! I gave up on Emily Bronte during my degree, while waxing lyrical about Charlotte. But surely I can use the family tree diagram at the front of the book to back up my Kate Bush version of events? The only thing I learned about WH at University was that it was full of imagery of windows and doors. But right now my main sympathy is with the suspicious farm dogs in the opening sequence: I want to bite the characters' knees and get them out of my house. Oh dear.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Off Piste Pansies

Thursday already and not a stitch sewn or knitted this week - tsk!
Administration of my Etsy, Amazon and Ebay listings have nibbled away at the last few evenings.  But that's OK - it's rather fun!
My rush of weekend energy was predictably followed by a bit of a dip, but I have also been enjoying browsing new-to-me blogs unearthed by the Me Made May Flickr set - so many amazing outfits!  I am storing up loads of inspiration.

A surprise entry into the "must sew now" category is an out-of-print Cynthia Rowley skirt pattern (Simplicity 2512), which was huge in blogland a couple of years ago.  At the time, it went right over my head and I watched other sew-ists enthusing about it with a shruggy "So what?  A bit 90's isn't it?". 

Oh Roo!  When will you learn?  You take a long time to come round to a new shape don't you?

Every time one of these skirts pops up in the Flickr group, I think "OK... I really must do it this time..."

So... rather late to the party, I am planning a tulip skirt.  I think it will be fabulous in my pansy and bluebird print twill....  the same fabric I have earmarked for a second Darling Ranges dress!
I am hoping to have enough yardage to make both.  Although it is a very distinctive print, I think I have room in my life for two such different garments in the same fabric.
So that's the latest plan... watch this space!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Me Made May: Week One

Me Made May begins with a flash of lightning!

1 May, Me-Made:
Coat (Japanese pattern from book "Sweet Black")
Hat (Ruche Beret from "Weekend Hats")
Shorts (Simplicity 2654)
Special effort made?:  I polished my boots!  Threw all the reds in together.

2 May, Me-Made:
Cardigan (Audrey in Unst)
Skirt (Colette Ginger)
Top (Lisette Portfolio, Simplicity 2245)
Special effort made?  Amber jewellery, gifted to me by my dear FL a few years back.  Very "grown-up" and classy!

3 May, Me-Made:
Blouse  (Sencha)
Trousers (Eva Dress)
Special effort made?  I washed my hair.  No, seriously, I don't usually do that mid-week!  Vintage cashmere cardigan to posh-it-up a bit for an important meeting at work.

4 May, Me-Made:
Sweater (Bettie's Pullover from Interweave Knits Winter 2011)
Skirt (1952 vintage pattern, Simplicity 3983)
Special effort made?  Nail polish (Butter London "Muggins") And I challenged myself to wear this skirt, which is a difficult length.  The overall effect reminds me of a lady golfer from a 1930's knitting pattern.

5, 6 and 7 May, Me-Made:
No pictures of the Long Weekend "outfit" because it wasn't an outfit at all!
I wore my Central Park Hoodie over jeans, two t-shirts and a wool polo neck jumper, because it was cold.  Hand-knitted socks were also worn.  Hand-made knickers go without saying nowadays.
Special effort?:  None.

8 May:  Me-Made
Blouse (Sencha)
Skirt (Colette Ginger)
Cardigan (Audrey in Unst)
Special Effort made:  Nail polish (Butter London in "Artful Dodger") and an attempt at a colour-wash shampoo which turned my hair into a wild frizz-ball with no discernible colour effect.  (Fail!)

Summary so far?
  • I need to shorten that navy skirt.
  • I need to paint my nails the night before if I am going to get to work for 9am.
  • Next time I make a Ginger skirt with the cupid's bow feature, I need to reinforce the waistband.
  • I need a new photographer.

Monday, May 07, 2012

A Long Weekend and an Etsy Shop

The Sowing Machine
There is nothing quite so motivating as a tractor thundering past the house, backwards and forwards, up and down the fields until gone midnight.
Despite a few flurries of snow, the Field Borrower (aka the farmer from 7 miles away who is using our fields this year) has been hard at work all weekend.  I suspect he borrowed his father's equipment for the Long Weekend and has to return it on Tuesday morning.  He is sowing barley.
Whatever got into me, (spring fever?) I have been powering away on a programme of home improvements.
The Untouchable Sofa of Doom
There are some things I can do nothing about - i.e. the sofa next to FL's chair.  This picture was taken AFTER he tidied it.  At a glance I see it is currently home to several hectares of news-print and books, a tow rope, a camera he doesn't know how to use, a single gardening glove, my two best cushions (or they used to be...), a few hats, and assorted stationery.  The Book is in there somewhere.   Excellent.  Sigh.

So when The Girl saw my latest purchase: "Homespun Style", she laughed out loud.  Her exact words were:  "The only thing you will ever change around here is the tablecloth."
I took this as a challenge, and began my campaign upstairs, in her bedroom (insert evil laugh).  Under her strict supervision we sorted through her clothes, in preparation for the Big Move, as she will no longer need school uniform but will need "things to wear to college".  Three bin-bags-full later, we confirmed what we already suspected:  she needs some new clothes.  Age 9 swimsuits are of little use to a girl at 6th form college.  So that will be a fun project!  Don't get any ideas - they will be shop-bought.

Ploughing on, she listed a pile of CDs  for disposal via some-sort-of-bird-dot-thingy, and I Amazoned a few books, creating a far bigger pile for the charity shop (as I have no patience with their "1p plus postage" deals unless I am the one buying them!).  There are some clothes to photograph for eebaay on  a bright day.  And I cleared the top landing in preparation for The Boy's arrival with all his worldlies at the end of the month.
I painted the last two windowsills.  And made blueberry spelt muffins.  And cleaned the bedroom fireplace.  I plan to paint my bedroom soon.  I have been putting it off for years because of the regular floods through the chimney wall, but (touch wood) we haven't had one for over a year despite many a downpour.  And frankly I've waited long enough.  I might even buy a rug for the floor.  It has been carpetted with old newspapers since the last deluge, which is really depressing. 

I did some of my own sowing (veg seeds) but no sewing (another Darling Ranges dress?) as I ran out of energy after a tortuous attempt to upload items into my Etsy shop.
... so when I think about it, perhaps Ms Dolly Clackett was right when she described me as being "in perpetual motion" - it's certainly been true this weekend!  Thank you Roisin - maybe it was your comment that spurred me on!  I am super-carp at these blog-award questionnaires, so I regret that I am not going to name names of other Versatile Bloggers - but if you are reading this and got this far, I reckon you deserve a prize, so consider yourself nominated! ; )

P.S.  I decided to open my Etsy shop despite only having ten items uploaded for sale!  If I ever get the gadget to attach to my side bar, you will see new items as I add them, but for the time being, have this: