Fancy Log Cabin Baby Blanket

I’ve woven baby blankets out of Bendigo 8ply Cotton a couple of times before. It makes for a cushy fabric, once it’s been washed.

Someone told me ages ago that baby blankets are generally a meter by a meter, so that’s what I aimed for. I do like using the full width of the loom, or close to it. As it turned out, I wound up with 400 warp ends, and I have 200 heddles on each shaft, so I didn’t need to move any heddles. Bonus!

Partway through measuring the warp, I began to suspect I wouldn’t have enough of the green. I did some maths and found I’d be just short, so I had to buy more of it. Fortunately the colour is still available. I bought another ball of white, too, just to sure. So my stash won’t be reducing in size as much as I hoped by doing this project.

Once the warp was on the loom I realised that I had a problem. The standard boat shuttles won’t hold much of the 8ply yarn. My longest stick shuttle isn’t far off the width of the blanket, but I have no space to the right of the loom to get it into the shed. And I only have one of them anyway. Thankfully I found some large boat shuttles at the Bendigo show. I bought two, which was silly since I’m using three colours and I’d probably use these for krokbragd, which uses three shuttles.

I was hoping to be able to simply seam the two ends of the blanket, but carrying the yarn up the sides didn’t make for a very tidy edge. I wound up sewing on blanket binding. Not my favourite task! But it turned out better this time than the last.

The draft is something I spotted in a photo and worked out on a draft-making app on my iPad. While I like the result I wasn’t as thrilled with it in person as I thought I’d be. Still, it is pretty.

The whole project has me thinking that maybe I’ll use the rest of this yarn on the knitting machine. It’s not that I don’t enjoy weaving baby blankets, but my friends are all past the age of having babies and while I enjoy the weaving I really dislike the sewing part.

And playing with the Addis and Bond has reignited my interest in machine knitting, which is something I’d like to embrace while it lasts.

Black Denim Skirt

After finishing the Pinstripe Skirt I still had the sewing vibe and the idea of making a gored skirt out of old jeans was next on my list. The working week had started though, so I tackled the skirt in steps. Between breakfast and starting work I enlarging the pattern. I made it 20 years ago but had grown out of the skirt I’d sewn from it. At lunchtime I cut out the pieces.

I managed to get everything out of two pairs of jeans, though it meant the waistband was in three pieces. In the late afternoon I got sewing. This was made faster by having preserved the side seams of the jeans legs.

I didn’t finish it that day. It wasn’t until later in the week that I got the waistband, hem, buttonholes and buttons done.

Here’s the finished piece:

I’m very happy with it.

Do I still have the sewing vibe? Yes and no. The itch to weave is returning, and I’ve felt a twinge of interest in machine knitting. Both are due to winter approaching and wanting to add to my knitwear choices.

Feeling Sew Sew

To get myself into the zone for sewing the Pinstripe Skirt I did an overview of all the sewing projects awaiting my time and enthusiasm. These included both refashioning projects and ones I’d make from scratch. When I had everything together, I laid all the projects out on the kitchen table and considered if I really wanted to make them or I was simply determined to use the fabric or refashion the garment.

A man’s shirt went into the op shop pile, another two were put away in the rag rug box – I have more than enough clothing made from Paul’s old shirts now. One polyester top went in too, and another will join it if I decide I still don’t like the fit.

Then I wrote a list of what was left over, divided it into seasons and put winter ones at the top and summer ones at the bottom. No point rushing into making summer clothing when I won’t wear it for six months.

Next I reordered by priority. The Pinstripe Skirt stayed on top because I plan to wear it to a Guild meeting in which the weaving group is going to show some of what our members make. It was harder to decide what to do next, so I chose projects that were ready to go – no dyeing or shopping for fittings required. Rustling up the black jeans I wanted to make a skirt out of reminded me that the box of denim scraps and old jeans doesn’t close any more, so I decided that project would be next.

The rest were ordered by how keen I was to make them. I stacked the projects up in order in a basket and turned to the sewing machine.

To warm up the sewing brain cells I did some mending, like replacing elastic in a slip and redoing a waistband. Then I gathered my courage and tackled the Pinstripe Skirt, telling myself what the teacher of the Sewing with Handwovens course had said: “it’s only fabric”. I finished it on Day Two.

To my surprise, I was still keen to start the next project. Last time I did some sewing I got fed up with it after a couple of days. What I did next I’ll save for another post.

Pinstripe Skirt

Last year I wove a length of fabric to make a skirt out of. It’s taken me nearly a year to get around to the sewing up the skirt. The trouble with making clothing from my hand weaving is I’m not as keen on the sewing as I am on the weaving.

The fabric is woven with Bendigo 3ply classic with a grey boucle yarn placed every 5cm.

My original idea was to make deep folds in the front and back, but that made the skirt a little too bulky.

So I reduced the depth of the folds. I liked the improvement, but then I remembered that when I brought the project to the Sewing with Handwovens class someone suggested box pleats. Lots of pinning later I had changed the folds to box pleats and decided I was happy with the look. I got sewing and finished the skirt:

I like it! It has a bit more flare than an a-line skirt, but isn’t too sticky-outy (for want of a technical term).

Now I just need to weave the jacket I planned to make to complete the outfit. Hopefully that won’t take a year!

Pear Doorstop

For a small project, this one took a while to finish. The delay was due to searching for something heavy but soft to put inside. It needed to be heavy enough to hold a door open, but not so hard that it would hurt anyone if they dropped it on their foot.

In the end I opted for sandpit sand in a zip-lock bag, reinforced with a layer of packing tape, surrounded by toy stuffing. Seems to work just fine.

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…