Flying Fox Coat Part 2

Happy with the colour of the wool now, I put the sleeve-sides back on the dress model:

The back would be easy. I took the old back and pinned it underneath, marked where the seam lines should go with pins, took it off and made a calico version:

Then I turned to the front. Each of the old front pieces had been double thickness, so I separated them and tried the same method. They weren’t the right shape, but I was able to tweak and pin and make a reasonable calico.

Then I stepped back and considered the result. Something about the seam line at the front bothered me. I didn’t like how it went straight up to the shoulder. So I pinned an alternative line, taking it further over into the sleeve piece and making the front panel the same width all the way up.

Much better. Next I safety pinned everything together and tried it on for fit. Happy with the result, I used the calico pieces as pattern pieces to cut the wool. I had only enough fabric to create a narrow facing for the front bands.

Next I worked on fixing up the sleeve-sides. I’d hoped to leave the pockets as they were, but the backs of them were made with lining. It hadn’t taken up any dye, which wouldn’t have bothered me, but the previously unseen specks of mould had. Ew!

The only lining fabric I had was the black I’d bought to reline my old cloak. I didn’t want to use black, however, because then the coat wouldn’t go with the navy pieces in my wardrobe. I happened to pop into a local op shop looking for a belt to recycle and had a quick peek in their fabric bin in case there was some lining. There wasn’t, but I found this gorgeous rayon:

It’s certainly silky enough to use as lining, and it goes beautifully with the grey. I may even end up with enough leftovers to make a top.

The sewing machine was ready the day before the five-day lockdown began. Phew! First up I replaced the pocket lining.

Everything got pinned back together and sewn apart from the lining. I stalled then and, as I realised I wasn’t sure how to hem the coat, my brain went “Look! Weaving!”. But I watched a few YouTube tutorials later and learned that I needed to iron-on a bias interfacing strip then fold up the wool and stitch into the strip. I had bias interfacing strips but they weren’t iron-on, I had iron on adhesive fabric, but I didn’t have something that was both. But then, maybe I didn’t need to. Maybe I could use the adhesive to iron on the interfacing. Yet I also had a lot of uncertainty that had me avoiding the coat for a while.

Wiggle Scarf Wobbles

When I started this scarf, it was as if holes had developed in my memory of how to warp a loom. I realised I hadn’t warped a loom since the dishcloths back in early November/late December. Still, it’s not THAT long ago that I should forget so much!

First I was flummoxed that the cotton colours on the draft I’d made in Fiberworks were much paler than what was in my stash. Instead of using the brighter versions of those colours, I chose the darker ones. When I’d wound half the warp I realised the wiggles were going to be barely visible against the burgundy background. It needed contrast.

So for the first time I put a large bout of warp back on the warping board and laboriously unwound it. I changed the draft in Fiberworks to the colours from the sampler, and that gave me the idea of using green/blue/green/blue in both warp and weft instead of one colour in each. It would mix the colours more. I tried it in the program and liked the way it looked, and started winding. I was a quarter of they way along before I remembered that the reason I’d used one colour in the warp and another in the weft was to avoid using three shuttles.

Oh well. Three shuttles it would be.

Only after I had almost finished winding the second half of the warp did I realise that I’d measured a 3 metre warp instead of a 4 metre one. I’d read the number of ends as the length. What I had was too short to make two full length scarves.

Sigh.

I reminded myself of my approach for this year: ‘Be flexible.’

I wasn’t going to unwind everything again, so I figured I’d be making at least one full sized scarf and the rest could be a short scarf or a cowl. Which might be a good thing, actually. The second scarf was originally going to use the lovely silk ribbon yarn I’d tried in the class sampler, but when I went to buy more I found it had been discontinued. A cowl would be short enough that I can use the leftovers from the sampler. Maybe.

After I’ve woven one band each of the pattern – wiggles going across followed by wiggles going up and down, I looked at the back and realised that I had not, as I thought, worked out a way to get the back to look the same as the front. Back in Fiberworks I figured out it wasn’t possible, and I decided to settle on a small variation in the vertical wiggles on the back. Fortunately I was able to fix what I’d woven already by removing four rows of the burgundy.

Once that was done I resumed weaving, finished another horizontal section and a vertical one… then realised that my two sections of vertical wiggles started from different directions – one from the left, the next from the right. That had to become intentional, meaning I have to check what the last one was when I start the next and do the reverse.

I tell you what, this scarf is really making me work hard! I’m almost glad the second one will be shorter, so I’ll be done sooner.

Painted Roses Scarf

This one began as a three heddle rosepath project, but after most of a year in hiatus when I returned to weaving it I was totally over the novelty of wrangling three heddles. So I untied the warp, pushed off the little bit of weaving I’d done, and rethreaded with one heddle as plain weave.

The rosepath wasn’t the only effect I had intended for the scarf. The warp was a painted skein. I laboriously adjusted the warp length as I threaded the loom so that the colours aligned. So this has become the Painted Roses Scarf. The effect is subtle thanks to the weft being a similar red to that in the warp, but the weft also has a bit of glitz in it, adding a hint of shimmer to the final piece.

Matching the colours made for a shortish scarf, but some people prefer that.

Cutting up the flannelette scraps for use in rag rugs is done.

I’d estimated it might take a month. Instead it took about 12 hours, spread over two weeks. A lot more scraps had already been cut than I realised. I also weighed the strips and did the math to work out how long a rug each batch would make, and chose warp colours to match. Next I need to sew the strips together, then fold the edges in using and iron and a bias tape maker. From what I recall, the sewing is fast but the ironing is slow.

I had a mild feeling of de-ja-vu during the last four days of cutting, as I’d done the first big batch of cutting during the first lockdown in Melbourne. Thankfully both cutting and lockdown were much shorter this time.

Flying Fox Coat Part 1

This coat has weighed on my mind for the year and a half since we cleared Late Lucy’s house. It was a quality piece, but oh so 80s. There was a coffee stain on the front, so I got it dry cleaned before taking it to the vintage shop to sell on commission. But the shop didn’t want it. I doubted that any op shop would try to sell something so out of date, so if I donated it I’m sure it’d go straight to rags.

It sure was ugly. Like someone took half of a Michael Jackson inspired coat and half of a 80s batwing coat and made a Frankenstein’s monster out of the two.

But it was “100% pure new wool” (well, obvious except for the lining and hideous plastic buttons) and I couldn’t help trying to think of ways to refashion it. Mostly I’d come up against the fact I don’t know or want to learn how to do tailoring, remind myself that I don’t need another coat, then push it to the back of the craft room cabinet.

But since my sewing jape hadn’t exhausted itself, and despite – or perhaps because of – having put my sewing machine in to be serviced, my brain kept returning to the conundrum what to do with it. That impression of two coats forced into one made me wonder what design ideas I might have if I just separated them.

The first good thing about this coat was, I had nothing to lose but the $15 I’d spent on dry cleaning. So I grabbed the Quick-un-pick. Off came the buttons, then the bat-wing sleeve-sides, then the cuffs. I put the bat-wing sleeve-sides onto the dress form on their own. They didn’t meet at the middle, but the gap at the back could be filled with a panel and a collar that swooped down to the hem would fill out the front. Did I want a bat-wing coat? I had a niggling memory that they had come back in fashion, so I searched the internet and found that yes, bat-wing was back in everything from coats to dresses to tops to jumpsuits.

It also seemed to have a cosy, unfussy vibe – like the Tessuti Berlin Coat only with bat-wing sleeves. Or maybe I should tap into the Australian wildlife version and call them flying fox wings? That gave me a better name for the coat than “Late Lucy’s Ugly 80s Coat”!

The second good thing about this coat was that it contained a LOT of fabric. However, I do not wear cream. It makes me look ill. Fortunately, I’d snatched up two packs of Dylon cold dye in ‘black velvet’ at a sale a while back, and I had enough that I might be able to get a nice grey. I like grey whether it’s light, mid or dark so I was sure to get something I liked. Theoretically. I followed the directions and…

Phew!

The Owl & the Moustache

My first project using an Echo draft I designed is done:

I named the draft “The Twirly Moustache” after the design line but I’m going to call the scarf the Owl Scarf, because the resulting pattern looks like owl eyes and beaks to me.

There are a couple of other Echo ideas I’d like to explore, but I’ve decided to move on to the Deflected Doubleweave designs I created after the workshop so, hopefully, as much as possible of that stays in my memory.

In the meantime, I’ve started cutting up more flannelette.

The intention is to get it all turned into strips so they take up less room in the stash. It’ll be quicker and easier to mix, match, weigh and work out sizes, too. Since most of rag rug weaving time is prep, and the weaving is fast, it’s silly to wait until the loom is free before deciding to weave a rug, since that leaves the loom empty for weeks.

It’s around a year since I bought the huge bag of rags and I’ve only woven less than a quarter of it. I don’t really want it to take four to five years for me to use it all up, especially when there are other rugs, made both of rag strips and rug yarn, that I want to weave too. So I’ve set myself up in the kitchen with the electric bias binding cutter and aiming to do an hour of strip-making a day. If all goes well it’ll take under a month to get through it all.

Sewing Confidence & the Skirt-Jumper Conversion

Having successfully made three garments from handwoven fabric, my sewing confidence was high. I thought: “What next?”. I wanted to refashion of one of Late Lucy’s dresses to either a dress or top. Last year I made a calico test version of a dress pattern I thought would suit, but it came out badly. I’d decided to make a simple gathered peasant top instead. But even as I made the first cut I had that niggly feeling things weren’t going to work out, and I was right. Pity. The fabric is lovely, but it’s now mostly cut into small pieces. I will pack it away until some other idea comes to me or I stumble on a promising pattern.

After that, my sewing confidence was dinted. Do something simple, I told myself. I considered the to-do list.

Back in the late 80s, when fashion favoured volume and bordered on costume, I made a cloak. It was black and made out of good quality wool, and I wore it quite a bit – mostly to and from Melbourne CBD where I was studying “Promotional Design” but also when I went out at night with friends. It was wonderfully warm and didn’t have the restriction of movement for the arms that most heavy coats have so was great when carting folios around. Eventually the lining wore through and the wool started looking a bit pilled, so I made a new one to replace it. Last year I bought fabric to reline the old cloak. I thought I might shorten it to a cape. Was it time to work on it?

I put the cloak on the dress form and decided I should also remove the hood as it was way too deep and would either slip off backwards or fall down and cover my face. The hem was very uneven, I noted. It had never occurred to me as a new sewer to level it…. and I suddenly felt all sentimental and nostalgic. I realised this garment sums up so much of my youth. It and my debutante dress are the two pieces I think of when I think back to my early sewing days. How could I cut it up?

Darn it!

So the old cloak got packed away. I considered shortening the newer cloak, as I don’t really wear it these days and I was still keen on the idea of a cape, but suddenly the conversion felt too challenging. I began thinking that maybe this sewing jape was over. I’d faffed about for a few days and got nothing done. Perhaps I should finally get around to having my machine serviced. Considering that I’d adopted the machine from Mum ten years ago and hadn’t had it serviced once… yeah, it was definitely long overdue.

Off it went to the service man. With the machine out of the house, I figured my mind would turn to something other than sewing.

Nope.

Projects on the refashion list and the projects on it kept nagging at me, keeping me awake at night. “I can’t do anything without a machine!” I protested. “Ah, but you still have an overlocker!” my brain replied. “One of these projects only needs an overlocker.” I gave in. After all, if I tackled it my brain would be satisfied and stop making me want to sew.

This was one of five knit wool skirts from Late Lucy’s wardrobe:

Too old fashioned for op shops, they would only end up in the recycling or trash. I began wearing the only one that fit me around the house last winter, and it was very comfy though not all that flattering. I’d had the idea of turning them into dog or lap blankets. The above grey one was the only one with pleats, which made it unsuited to a blanket conversion. While partway into putting one on the dress form to see what I could make of it, I suddenly realised it could be made into a jumper. All it would take was slashing it up from the hem to what would become the armpit. All done with the overlocker.

So I pinned and tried it on and adjusted and overlocked. It worked out pretty well, though I should have anticipated that pleating over my stomach would add bulk where I’d rather it didn’t. It will be another cosy garment to throw on at home in winter. And I could cut it down the front and make it a cardigan. Hmm.

My sewing confidence had lifted again, which meant my mind didn’t stop thinking about sewing. Instead it latched onto another Late Lucy garment refashion. This time a much scarier one. But as with the skirts, it was a piece that would probably become rags if it went to the op shop, so I nothing to lose. That one, however, will take a few posts to explain.

Handwoven, Handmade

Early last year I wove fabric with the intention of making two tops in the same style as this top I made several years back and then embellished in 2016:

The first was woven from some fine blue yarn with white cotton slubs along it, that I got as part of a mill ends batch. I call it my Little Fluffy Clouds top.

The second was woven from some leftover and new Seta Soie Silk. I call it my Seta Soie top.

I’m resisting the urge to add darts on the front and back. For years my style has been fitted on the top and loose on the bottom, but I adopted it back when I didn’t have much of a bust and anything loose made me look flat-fronted. Now I certainly don’t have that problem. I’m more of an hourglass than a pear, and anything too fitted shows more than just the flattering bumps and creases. Loose on the top works with fitted on the bottom, or loose on the bottom so long as there’s a waist, or a suggestion of one.

Additional Indigo

I’ve been wanting to do more fresh leaf indigo dyeing since the workshop, but my plants copped a beating from heat and rain and I had to wait until I had enough healthy leaves to play with. Paul rustled up a broken mallet I could use the shortened handle of, and I found an old cutting board to use under the fabric.

First I added a few extra leaf prints to the soy-mordanted top:

Then I added lots of leaf prints to the un-mordanted, green over-dyed top:

I scrunched the imperfect and squished leaves together with some salt and massaged the juice into a scrap of cloth. Who knows? Maybe I’ll use that scrap some day. The stalks I dropped into a container of water and within a week or so they had sprouted roots:

I see more indigo dyeing in my future.

Shadow Weave Vest

In May last year I finished this shadow weave jacket:

Ugh.

It was a fudged solution to a failed attempt at replicating a knitted jacket in woven cloth. I knew I wouldn’t wear it, and I didn’t, so wound up in the refashion pile.

A few months ago, when I was having the fabric/sewing clear out, I started playing with it again. I unpicked the seams and considered the fabric pieces I had, and after some playing on the dress model I mapped out a plan:

Did I make a calico? Nope!

And then didn’t have the courage to start sewing. But last week I bit the bullet, so to speak, and got stuck into the sewing.

It’ll need a closure of some kind if worn on it’s own. I’m thinking press studs.

The back was a ‘make it work’ moment, as I’d wrapped the top of the sides over the shoulder in the hopes of using less fabric for the back, and have enough left over for sleeves.

I do love how the shadow weave pattern looks here.

That wasn’t to be. I could have made 3/4 length sleeves, but I hate them, and short sleeves would look odd in fabric this thick. So I decided it would have to be a vest/top. The only seams I’m not 100% happy with are the armholes, which gape a little at the back of the right side, but otherwise I’m pretty chuffed with how it came out. And amazed at how secure the overlocked edges are.

I’m quite chuffed with how it turned out. I don’t need another vest, but the only alternative was to throw out some perfectly good handwoven fabric. At least this one is cotton, so I don’t need to wear anything underneath to prevent contact with my skin. Which might mean it’ll get more wear than my knitted vests.

Workshop the Second

The pin loom workshop last Sunday seemed to go very well. It was quite a challenge teaching half the class on Zoom and the other half in person, but my aim was to get everyone to complete one square by the end of the day and that was achieved. The rest of what I covered I did as demos, which worked well with Zoom.

The Guild is keen on me doing more rigid heddle workshops, which I’m considering. However, by the end of the Pin Loom workshop day, despite being home by 4:00, I was entering a bad back flare up that made the next day hell and shadowed me for the rest of the week. I don’t know if it was the workshop itself, or falling asleep in an armchair later that day, that sparked it. Exhaustion hit me like a wall when I got home. Maybe I need to limit myself to half day workshops.

Of course, all inspiration for the projects I was longing to start as soon as the workshop was done evaporated in the face of pain and fatigue. I got out the yarn and patterns for the two machine knit garments I want to make, but felt too brain-fogged for the complexity of adapting the patterns. Instead I did a bit more fresh indigo leaf printing and wove more of the Moustache Scarf.

Finishing existing projects and chores appealed. I finished a portrait. It’s been kicking my butt for the last year. No matter how much I tweaked and reworked, it just didn’t look like the subject. Working on it upside down for two sessions got it close enough that I am happy to let it go, if the recipient likes it.

Once I decided machine knitting was too much, I packed everything away. I noticed a half draped garment on my dress form and began to play with it again. That led to some sewing, but I’ll save that for the next post.