Bleaching Solution

A few refashioning batches ago, I made this sleeveless top from one of Paul’s shirts:

You can see the problem. The pocket wound up in an awkward spot and when I removed it the shadow of it remained. I’ve been thinking about how to hide that ever since. After my craft room tidy up recently I had an idea for a swift, easy way to fix it: bleach.

I tested my idea on a scrap of the fabric, using neat and then diluted bleach:

Only neat bleach made a strong enough mark. The fabric is thick enough that it wasn’t destroyed by it, so I went ahead and painted the front of the top:

Initially the marks bleached to green, which would have been nice:

But after a wash they changed to light blue, which I like as well.

The pocket shadow is still there, but it’s much less noticeable.

Taupe Jacket

The third project I tackled post-sewing class was the Taupe Jacket. When I took it in it was at this stage:

I still had to sew in the zip, I wanted to taper the sleeves and perhaps narrow the waist section and I was thinking of adding a collar. Then I had to decide if I wanted to line it.

Well, I tackled all of the above. Zip in. Collar on. Sleeves tapered. Lining added. I tried a fell seam along the underside of the arms, but the fabric kept unravelling even though it had been overlocked. So I wound up doing a straight seam then using some calico bias binding I made ages ago to finish a quilt to stabilise those seams.

I took a bit of a break before tackling the lining due to feeling ill for a week. I hand stitched the lining in because by then I was a bit sick of the sight of my sewing machine.

It now looks like this:

Am I happy with it?

Yes. But it has reminded me that I like weaving much more than sewing. That’s a bit of a hitch in my plan to make clothing out of fabric I’ve woven. I’m going to hold off tackling sewing the handwoven skirt for a while, or I might end up rushing and taking short cuts to get it done quicker.

Greta Cape

I’ve finished my second post Sewing for Handwovens class project.

Using one of the Style Arc patterns I bought.

I made it in calico first, which I’m glad I did as the instructions are a bit scant in places so I was able to work it out without risking the small amount of handwoven fabric I had. I’d done so because I suspected the collar would be in contact with my skin, and being sensitive to wool that would force me to wear a high collar underneath. I was right, so I made the collar from the lining instead.

Though I used interfacing, the only black I had was a bit thin and the collar could be a bit stiffer. I should have doubled it or bought a thicker one. But the collar hasn’t come out too floppy, just a bit softer than it’s meant to be, so I’m not unhappy with the result.

It’s made from the fabric from the Handspun, Handwoven, Handsewn Jacket, which was already the third garment the main yarn in this had been made into.

The only change I’m thinking of making now is to put trim along the lines where I pieced together the handwoven fabric strips. I’ll do that if I happen across the perfect trim. In the meantime, I’ll call the Greta Cape done!

Pattern Practicality

After the Sewing for Handwovens class a few weeks ago I reviewed my approach to clothing design with handwoven fabric. Until then, inspired by Saori, I’d been looking at patterns that didn’t require cutting the cloth. But to be honest, my taste in clothing has always been toward more fitted pieces.

I have cut my handwoven cloth before. A few years back I made a vest out of fabric I’d woven then felted. I wasn’t really entering the danger zone of fraying, however. Felted fabric doesn’t fray.

But I learned something else from that project: don’t download patterns.

Of the three patterns I’ve downloaded, carefully printed, pieced together and cut out, all came out too big. Sure, I printed out the little one inch square, measured it and changed the scale I printed at, but the square is much too small to really get the scale right.

I’ve now tossed those three patterns in the recycling bin, deciding that I will only buy paper patterns from now on. My local Lincraft is closing down, so I popped down there to buy some commercial patterns.

Ugh! I’d forgotten how time-consuming it is to buy patterns in store. Flicking through six or seven big books, writing down the brand and number, queuing up at the counter and discovering they don’t have the pattern you want in stock. I could have gone back and started again, but Paul was waiting in the car.

Once at home I did some searching on the internet. I wanted a classic denim skirt pattern. An image came up that looked right, and it led to a small pattern company, Style Arc. I expected to find it was in the US or UK and post would cost a fortune and take ages – but no! It was a local company in my home city! So I bought the pattern, and a few others.

I love how they contain a little sample of suggested fabric! I’ve sewn one of them now, and I found the instructions a little bit scant in places, but otherwise it worked just fine. Not for beginners, though. More on that project in another post…

Sewing For Handwovens Workshop

Until a few years back my writing schedule always had me madly dealing with edits in late December through January. Now that I have to take longer than a year to write a book, edits happen at all times of the year. This means I’ve been able to attend the Guild’s Summer School for the last couple of years. Last year I did basketry. This year I chose a two day workshop on sewing handwoven cloth.

I took along my mini sewing machine (which seemed to be the noisiest in the group!), a few tools and armful of projects – finished, half-done and a shawl I thought might be cut up and made into something. It didn’t seem likely that we’d sew an entire outfit in the two days and there was a small fee for calico so I was expecting we’d do lots of samples and then just discuss our projects.

I was there for the hints and tips, and Pat provided plenty. Many were ones I knew already, since the class needed to be useful to both new and experienced sewers and I’m more in the latter category, but some of those were good reminders, particularly of good sewing habits. By the end I did find myself wishing we’d used some handwoven fabric for a sample or two, just to get a feel for how it behaves, but overall it was a very informative class.

Projects were discussed as a group. It would have been nice to have individual feedback, too, but it would have taken an extra day for Pat to talk to everyone. What I did get was still invaluable: a bit of general feedback on what was working and what wasn’t, and an environment which stimulated me to think about what I wanted to achieve with my projects – helped by seeing the garments that Pat showed us.

These were the projects I took:

Garment: The Handspun, Handwoven, Handsewn Jacket:

Problems: Too small, scratchy. Hangs weirdly at the underarms.
Solution: Now that I have developed the idea further in the Taupe Jacket I’m ready to pull this apart and try making something else. Something lined, so I don’t have skin contact with the yarn.

Garment: The Taupe Jacket:

Problems: The underarm area doesn’t sit so well, though better than the HHH Jacket. The neckline is okay, but I think it could do with a collar. It’s a bit… square overall.
Solution: It needs a gusset, minimum, but I think I’ll try tapering the arms first. That would give me some offcuts to make a collar, so I don’t have to weave more fabric for it. Perhaps some darts at the waist would make it a little more flattering, but I’ll decide whether to do that at the end.

Garment: Boucle Stripe Skirt

Problems: The folds look good on the front, but add too much bulk to the back.
Solution: Add darts to the back instead.

Garment: A Touch of Glam Shawl

Problem: So. Many. Mistakes.
Solution: Class suggestion was to sew in more glittery thread to hide the gaps and skipped threads. I have only a bobbin’s worth of it (I culled it from my stash in disgust) but I do have some thrums in the purples and black that I could knot and sew in. I could pull threads out, too. I’ll need to do plenty of embellishment overall to make it look like it was intended, not hiding mistakes.

I could also use a recent purchase – a simple circular knitting machine from Lincraft – to make sleeves. Then I’d have to cut a hole in the middle of the shawl for a head opening, but I could knit a collar on the machine too. I’d then sew the shawl up the sides… or not. Hmmm…

Swings & Roundabouts

I’ve had a mild case of finishitis lately. The part of me that wants to get current projects done is winning the battle against the one that wants to start something new. So what do I have in progress?

The Handwoven Skirt
Currently stalled because my back has been cranky, and sewing is worse for it than weaving.

The Krokbragd Rug
Stalled because I’m waiting to see if I can buy some more carpet yarn from a weaver.

Clasped Weft Fringe Scarves
What I’ve been spending most of my craft time on. It’s been… interesting. Is there such thing as ‘anaesthetic brain’? Because my short term memory was atrocious after the second eye operation. I was incapable of following the draft, and after a number of sessions in which I unwove almost as much as I wove, I gave up and just started making it up as I went. Thankfully, the result is good. Kinda groovy.

Taupe Jacket
Mainly weaving this one in the evenings, while watching tv. I’m warping up the Knitters Loom with a natural wool and for weft I’m using stripes of natural through to brown coloured yarns. I’m intending it to become a jacket. We’ll see.

Eye Embroidery
It’s been the project I grab when I need something portable. However, I may regret not finishing it before now, if my eyesight remains bad for close work.

Swimmers Clock
I need to get back to this. It wasn’t warm enough to work out in the garage, and now it’s too warm.

Weaving Bits and Pieces
I’m making a weaving sword, or wavy beater, inspired by a recent demonstration by Mr Tanji at the Guild. Which I didn’t get to, but the Weavers Matters gals showed me the ropes at the next meeting and it was a lot of fun. Also, working on the idea for the Vari Dent Reed.

Getting Shirty

Every Spring two craft-related events are bound to occur in my life: the annual washing of the woollens, and a bout of refashioning.

Last year was an exception because with my bad back and work stresses I didn’t have much enthusiasm for either, but this year I was keen to do both. The first is well underway. All my jumpers, cardigans, jackets and vests, handmade or bought, are getting a gentle wash in woolmix then being spread flat to dry. I’m packing warmer items away with sachets of lavender (home grown) until the chilly weather arrives next autumn. Lighter, usually cotton-based items I keep on hand for the cooler days of summer.

This year I’ve set up a folding table in the guest room so I don’t take over the dining table for weeks on end. This had the added bonus of freeing up space for a bit of refashioning.

I wanted to begin with four old shirts of Paul’s that, from the looks of it, he barely ever wore. Apparently stripes are in again and these will certainly add a bit of that to my wardrobe. The first shirt (I began pinning and cutting before it occurred to me to take ‘before’ shots) was of a thin cotton, yet had long sleeves. I planned to make a sleeveless top.

The second was made of thicker cotton – with a fairly heavy yoke and collar lining – but with short sleeves. The thicker fabric had me thinking it was suitable for a dress.

The third was of thinner cotton. My plan was to make this a v-neck, short sleeved shirt.

The last was made of a lovely soft cotton. I hadn’t decided what to make out of it, but…

…then I saw the label…

… and decided not to cut it up, but wear it as it is, with the sleeves rolled up.

The red shirt required a fairly basic refashion, so I ‘warmed up’ with it. As it turned out, it wasn’t as straightforward as I hoped. I cut off the top part of the collar, but wanted to keep the stand bit. This was a bit large so I unpicked along the top, trimmed and sewed a new seam, which was rather fiddly.

Next, I started on the dress. This was one of those ‘two steps forward one step back’ sewing projects. I had to unpick and resew so many times. The armhole seams were done four times. When I was done I liked what I had made…

… but it’s just bit too short for a dress. It’ll have to be worn over something. That’s fine. I’ll call it my ‘butt-covering top’.

By then I had to clean up the kitchen table ready for visitors. I wound up putting everything away because I’d stirred up my neck injury and after futzing up the dress numerous times I was over sewing for a while. Still, I have two new tops made from shirts that would have gone to the op shop. Not that I’ve had a chance to wear them, what with Melbourne’s unusually cold spring weather.

Waffling About Weaving

In the last few years I’ve developed two weaving ambitions: to try lots of new weave structures and to weave fabric to make clothing from. Recent projects have seen me revert to my usual comfortable habit of using up stash, however. They have been a great excuse to play with twills, but I want to get back to trying new structures and weaving fabric for clothing.

My table loom now has a fabric project on it. I’m weaving three metres of black wool (Bendy Classic 3ply) with grey boucle stripes, which will hopefully become a skirt.

The Katie still has the feathers scarf on it.

All my recent yarn purchases have been with fabric in mind. Recently a weaver on Facebook posted an ad for vintage linen. I got in contact to see if she was amenable to me coming around and looking at it, and anything else she had for sale. We organised a time. When I got there she’d laid everything she wanted to sell out on the table. Well, except the occasional yarn cone I’d take out and find it wasn’t for sale. Maybe she changed her mind, or hadn’t checked that what she had put out was all for sale. It occurred to me that she might be doing it to see if I’d offer more money, so I tried that for a second cone of a yarn she’d already said I could buy one of. She refused firmly, so that clearly wasn’t it! Ah well, people can be hard to read sometimes.

I wasn’t bothered (just a bit nonplussed) and I came home with a half dozen small cones of interesting yarns, two large ones of linen and one enormous one of hemp. The linen is thinner than I’m used to weaving, and the hemp is as fine as sewing cotton, so I will probably double or triple them. The small cones will go with others that have been accumulating in the stash. I’ve got several reds and a white and natural mix.

The day after my yarn purchasing, Amanda at the Weaving Matters meeting gave an inspiring talk about saori. I found myself thinking that there’s a lot about saori that I’m drawn to. It’s colourful, playful, I like how the clothing is designed to be made with minimal cutting or waste, and the looms have many clever features.

Not that I’m going to buy a saori loom. I don’t have room for another loom. I don’t have room for the looms I have already! My Ashford 4-shaft table loom has been sitting folded up in the hallway for many months, unused.

(I’ve been thinking about that loom a lot recently. I advertised it the Facebook group for nearly a year, and though I lowered the price a few times all I got was the occasional enquiry that went nowhere. Trouble is, occasionally an ad for the 8-shaft version goes up from someone who is desperate enough to sell theirs really cheaply, so I don’t think I’ll ever get even a third of what a new version of mine is worth. I may as well keep it as a backup loom.)

Anyway, I can probably do saori-ish weaving on my knitters loom. It might even be simple enough to do while I’m recovering from eye-surgery, so long as I warp up the loom beforehand. Now there’s an idea. Yes, that’s what I’m going to do! I just need to decide whether I’ll use the red yarns, or the white and natural yarns.

I’d Do It Differently (and Better)!

I’ve not read many biographies in my life, but one of the few I have is an art book on Van Gogh. Such an interesting man, who had a beautiful way with words as well as a great love of experimentation and expression in art. So I was looking forward to going to the Van Gogh: the Seasons exhibition at the NGV.

I didn’t get there until the Wednesday before the end of the school holidays, and it was full of people rushing to see it before the holidays and school groups keeping the kids occupied during the last week of term. Even so, I don’t think the timing make a lot of difference. I’d heard about the long queues since the day it opened, and doubt there was ever going to be a quiet day.

We bought out tickets online, so at least we missed that queue, and we probably waited half and hour to 45 mins to get in. It was what it was like after we entered that really appalled me. It had to be the worst laid out exhibition I’ve ever been to, here and overseas – and I’ve seen some pretty badly designed ones. It seemed designed to have people cross paths constantly, squish them together in front of paintings, and be unable to see signage unless they stood right in front of it. And this was so much worse for people in wheelchairs.

It would have been a struggle with half the amount of people in there, but to make things worse they were letting so many people in it was uncomfortably crowded. Afterwards I got to wondering if I was just bothered by being around so many people, and I realised it wasn’t only that, but it felt dangerous to be in there. Maybe they had an effective evacuation plan, but the general impression of incompetence with floor layout didn’t inspire confidence.

When we got to the end, Paul asked if I wanted to go back and have another look at anything. I looked around and decided that, while I might have ordinarily, I just wanted to get out. So we emerged into the gift shop. Where I bought these:

Why buy two bags? Well, they were only $10 each. As I said before, Vincent had a great way with words as well as with the paintbrush. One bag had quotes, the other two had artwork. Which to choose?

No. I will not choose. I will have the best of both worlds! I cut them apart and brought out the sewing machine.

I’m going to use the tote bag to carry my mat and easel into classes rather than juggling them, and the satchel (lined with the back of the painting bag) is a gift for the teacher.

Doubleweave Gamp Sampler

I finished this months ago, but because I thought I’d make something out of it I haven’t posted about it.

As I wove it, I considered what to do with it. The fabric would be firm, with no drape. It would be narrow and long. It would be double-sided.

creativefidget821

I zig-zagged the ends after taking it off the loom. Since it was a sampler, I hadn’t bothered weaving in the ends as I went, so I wound up having to sew in 62 of them. Phew!

I could use it as a runner, but it’s a bit small. I could make zippered pouches, but it seems a shame to cut it up. I could make an obi, but I don’t have anything to wear one with. I could make it into a long bag for carrying my portable warping board, but then you won’t see that it’s double-sided.

So I’ve settled for just admiring the pretty colours for now:

creativefidget820

And trusting that the right purpose for it will come along eventually.