One From Two

Earlier this year we spent a weekend in Castlemaine, and at one of the local tourist attractions, the Mill Market, I bought a second hand jacket:

I love how three different knit fabrics have been combined to make it. This came to mind when thinking about how I might make garments out of Late Lucy’s knitted skirts at around the same time I culled some knitwear from my wardrobe. Could I make another jacket out of the navy skirt and an old jumper?

I had a perfect match colour-wise, though that only gave me two fabrics.

So I made a rough pattern from the jacket using calico, and laid pieces of it on top of the skirt and jumper. I had enough fabric to make it, if I eliminated the pockets.

The jumper I’d cut up had been sewn so the purl side faced out. This meant the knit side was in really good condition, so I put that one on the outside.

The next day, despite not feeling 100%, I got out the scissors, too a deep breath, and started cutting. The pieces from the jumper were cut first, then I turned to the skirt, and that’s when I got distracted.

It occurred to me suddenly that if I flipped the side pattern piece over it would fit right down beside the collar piece. I should have then made sure I still had room for the sleeve pieces, but I didn’t, and only went to cut them out did I realise my mistake.

I didn’t fancy making a vest, so I’d have to find more fabric. I packed everything up and put it out of sight. Then, a few days later, a possible solution came to me. The cuffs on the original jacket are extensions of the sleeves, that fold up. What if they didn’t fold up, but were attached halfway up the forearm? The main sleeves pieces could be shortened. I measured and tweaked and made it work, though it meant the sleeves would be bit skinnier so I had to hope they wouldn’t be too tight.

Once cut out, all of the pieces were overlocked around the edges except where I’d taken advantage of already existing hems. I sewed the bottom hem of the side pieces on the machine, but though I’d done a test on a scrap I wasn’t happy with the way this stretched out the fabric. So I hand sewed the rest of the seams, using thread unravelled from the waistband, until I got to the zipper, which is a non-stretchy part of the garment, and the inside of the collar, which benefited from the reinforcement of a straight stitch.

The sleeves are a teeny bit short, but I don’t think I’ll notice. It took quite a few weeks to make it, and a lot of hand sewing, but I’m chuffed to have made something wearable from two tired old garments.

Back on Track

Stepping back from creative projects and getting stuck into chores did what I needed it to. We got a whole lot done around the house, including a big cull of gardening tools after cleaning, oiling and/or sharpening everything so we could give friends a set for their new house. Within two weeks I found myself weaving again and within three I was doing a bit of sewing.

It helps that the 8-shaft certificate course is starting soon. There’s a warp on the Jane, ready to thread for the first sampler. I was a bit worried I wouldn’t feel the same eagerness for this course as I did the last one, after all my soul-searching over where I was going with weaving. The enthusiasm is there but it’s different. The experiences I had in the last year and a half gave me an appreciation for the rarity of learning opportunities. I’m going into it without grand ideas, just the simple joy of discovery.

And a little bit of caution, because while last time I had no work projects to navigate as well, this time I might. Nothing like a writing a book, though.

The computer upheavals did lead to one small bit of creativity. I had to buy a new tablet because the ‘old’ one wasn’t compatible, but it didn’t come with a stylus holder. So Paul 3D printed this for it:

(I glued on the gemstones.)

Slippage

I always thought that the first sign that civilisation was collapsing or WW3 was starting would be that my bank accounts and the internet would stop working. Recently one of my accounts was frozen by the bank and my email stopped working, both within a week of each other.

The account was sorted very efficiently by the bank. The email problem was not so easy. It led to my partner and I upgrading my computer, which didn’t fix the problem and meant most of the software and some of the hardware didn’t work any more. We couldn’t downgrade the computer again, but I have an old computer I retired back in 2018 that still works. We eventually stumbled on a fix for the email. Lots of time and some money spent on not quite getting things back to normal. Such is life with computers.

It had me seriously questioning if having domain names, a website and this blog is worth having to deal with an ISP, but when I thought things over I realised those things haven’t been a problem (yet). It’s always been email. So I’m not closing the blog yet.

Too much time sitting at the computer trying to sort things resulted in a back flare up, but even after it healed everything felt… strange. It was like I’d slipped into an alternative universe, where everything’s familiar but doesn’t work like it should. I also didn’t want to do anything creative. Instead I cooked, cleaned, weeded the garden and generally felt anxious. When I realised it was similar to the initial Covid outbreak funk I worked out I was back in survival mode.

But like that earlier funk, it will pass. There may be a few long gaps between posts because I’ll have no finished projects to blog about, and I’m sure you don’t want to know all about us tidying the garage, or cleaning and sharpening the gardening tools.

Well, if you’re going to have anxiety, you may as well enjoy the benefits of stress-induced cleaning binges,

Skivvies

So of course, having chosen and started another filler project, the skivvy pattern arrived. I decided to continue with the filler project, then I stuffed it up big time and packed it away in the hopes I’d stop beating myself up over it. Out came the skivvy pattern and my test fabric, and I quickly whipped up a garment:

The fit is almost perfect – only the neck is a little tight when putting it on. I was so chuffed, I cut out the pieces for another, out of a mercerised cotton from a friend’s destash. This time the fabric was a one-way stretch, so it would be a test of whether the pattern works without vertical elasticity. The cutting required matching the pattern, but what made that extra challenging was the pattern was denser at the sides than the middle, as if the centre area had been stretched. I tried steaming the fabric to see if it would even out, but it didn’t help. Fortunately I had enough fabric to place the front and back at the centre, and the sleeves at the sides.

I took a break, had a cuppa, considered other things I could be doing… and went back to the craft room and sewed this one up too. It came out fine – a little tighter at the neck but still comfy once on:

My plan now is to alter the pattern to make a round or scoop neck top. But by then I’d figured out a possible fix for the filler project I’d messed up, so I returned to that.

Faux Rib Cowl

It’s done…

The rib texture is subtle. It has a nice drape.

As I expected, it was too short for a scarf but just right for a mobius cowl.

It’s always satisfying when leftovers turn into something useful, rather than ending up yet more thrums hanging behind the Loom Room door.

Floral Corduroy Shirt

Lately I’ve been thinking I may have my sewing mojo back. At least, I seem to be getting the bug more often these days. I doubt I’ll ever be as obsessed as I was in my 20s, or that it will take over from weaving, but it is nice to be enjoying it more.

It helps to have good, reliable patterns. As the long weekend approached and knowing I had a wait before the skivvy pattern arrived, I set myself the goal of sewing a ‘filler’ project. During a recent trip to Spotlight to buy something I needed I bought something I didn’t: navy corduroy with a floral print for another corduroy shirt.

Now that’s a familiar problem – the using up of stash leading to the acquiring more stash. But there was a sale on!

In a couple of days it was all done. It sewed up so fast, I may need to choose another filler project… this time from the stash!

Flexible

A while back I stumbled upon a website that sold organic cotton jersey in fabulous prints, and I snapped up two pieces – one with navy and white stripes, one of flowers on a black background – imagining them as either leggings or long-sleeved tops (or both). The navy stripe was supposed to be my test fabric, because I wanted to make my own patterns by cutting up an old pair of leggings and a skivvy. Like I used to do in my 20s. Of course, my 20s was a looong time ago and when the fabric arrived I hesitated, and I put everything aside until I gathered some confidence.

Eventually I did, starting with cutting up a pair of leggings and making a pattern. I compared it to a leggings pattern I’d received free along with other patterns I bought from Style Arc. It was waaay different and after I had other problems tracing a skivvy pattern, I put everything aside again.

Since buying the fabric I’d become rather fond of the navy strips fabric, so I decided to buy some organic jersey from Spotlight to use as my test fabric instead. I also bought a double needle, after watching videos on how to sew stretch fabrics, for top stitching.

Recently I got enthused again. I brought out both patterns and laid mine over the Style Art one to see how different they were… then flipped it over. And they matched bar a few small variations. Duh.

So, using the Style Arc pattern, I cut the pieces and got sewing. In a anticlimactic short hour or so they were done.

I wore then the next day and they didn’t fall apart. Two tiny areas of sewing came undone – a tiny hole in one leg seam and a bit of waist overstitching that had snapped when it was stretched – but they were easily fixed. The legs were too long, which I’d anticipated, the calves too loose, and the waist was a bit high at the front. When I laid the traced pattern on top of the Style Arc one again, these were the areas that were different, so I figure I’ll use the traced pattern next time.

The Style Arc pattern worked well enough that I decided to buy a skivvy pattern from them. When I’d traced the skivvies I cut up, I found they were quite different in size and the fabric pieces were really distorted, leading to more guesswork than I was comfortable with.

Distortion in commercial garments is a bit of a gripe of mine, and one of the reasons I want to make my own stretch fabric garments. Since I started photographing clothes to put in Stylebook, I’ve been amazed at how badly cut the fabric pieces of commercial clothing are. Leggings nearly always twist around a leg – just one so it’s definitely not a design feature. T-shirt side seams twist around the body. Even the really expensive organic and ethically made leggings I bought are badly cut and twisty, and the fabric is really flimsy.

Hopefully the skivvy pattern will fit me, or at least be easy to adjust. Because if I can make my own stretch fabric garments, I could possibly make most of my clothes. Not that I’d have to be whipping them out constantly – just replacing garments as they wear out.

Clasped To My Bleeding Heart

It’s been more than a year since I warped the AKL. Used to be I’d have a project on it nearly all of the time, but after all the prep for the workshop I did January last year I took a break. It wasn’t meant to last this long, but much of my weaving attention and creativity went into the 4-shaft course, which I’m certainly not complaining about!

Even after weaving nearly constantly on the AKL for sixteen years (gosh!), there are still a few methods I haven’t tried. One was clasped warp. It was meant to be the next one I did but every time I tried matching up colours for it nothing quite worked. Part of the problem was coming up with a weft yarn that wouldn’t spoil the look of the two warp yarns.

I had another go at it recently, and as I pawed through sock yarns It was thinking back to the Echo and Jin workshop. We used a finer yarn for the weft so the warp colours dominated. The same approach might work on this scarf.

Most of my sock yarn isn’t solid, and the few solids I have are either not a good match for the multicolour yarns or are but don’t provide good contrast – you need contrast with clasped warp (and weft) for the effect to be visible. I applied the principles of matching patterns in clothing: go for different kinds of pattern. Like stripes and florals, or pin stripe and spots, or random and regular, or fine and large. I had a speckle-dyed grey yarn, and a striped dark red and purple yarn. Perfect.

And for the weft… a solid. By going even thinner I had a wide choice of fine wool yarns to choose from. I chose one that would disappear in the striped yarn, and hopefully only add to the flecked nature of the speckled one.

Warping was easy. Instead of threading a loop through every slot of the heddle then, after the loop is cut, moving one thread into the neighbouring hole, you thread a loop in slots and holes. The second yarn loops through this to the peg. Which means every thread is a double thread, and you weave half basketweave.

I beat very lightly so the weft was well spaced. Which made the weaving quite fast.

A couple of sessions later it was done, and I finished it by twisting the fringe.

Flower Farm Rag Rug

I picked a rainbow of colours for the rug that would use up the rosepath warp, but decided on the fly to choose two warm analogous followed by two cool analogous colours, putting the darker shades at the ends.

I didn’t have enough of the grey warp yarn left to weave a hem, so I did a braided fringe – which took 1 1/2 times longer.

That makes nine flannelette rugs woven. I’ve kept the first test rug, and one spectrum rug was a birthday present. That leaves seven to sell. I have four batches of rag left to weave: light blue, multicoloured strips, plaids and leftovers. I’d like to use up the warp I have rather than buy more. There’s one and a half cones of black, over half each of the red, orange, green, blue and purple, and a small amount of yellow left.

The light blue batch was supposed to be a rosepath rug. I don’t think the warp I use for it is going to work for any other batches of rag, so it could be a single rug warp in maybe orange or blue, or both.

The multicoloured strips are going to make for a chaotic, bright rug, and it doesn’t need a busy warp adding to the complexity. I have some white rug warp I bought for other kinds of rugs that would suit better than the warp colours I have left. I could do the light blue rug on this warp too.

The plaids are red, black and grey so it’ll have black warp with maybe some added red stripes. Another single rug warp. A colour scheme that’d go in our kitchen, so I may keep it.

And the leftovers… I suspect there’s more than one rug coming out of that. I could split both rags and warp into warm and cool colours and do two rugs, though that would mean two single rug warps.

So five rugs to weave. Though I have been thinking that I could sew the light blue strips together into a quilt. Light colours show dirt more than dark ones, after all, so not as suitable for floor rugs.

Wool Skirt to Wool Dress

Remember the wool skirt I turned into a jumper?

It’s had heaps of wear this winter, because it’s so cosy and comfortable. However, first time I wore it was to an art class where everyone helps out setting up and putting away props. I discovered several holes in it when I got home. They could be moth damage, but I reckon I would have noticed as I put it on. A bit of mending later and the jumper is fine to wear at home, and I now don’t wear knitwear to classes.

The skirt was one of six from Late Lucy’s wardrobe. Of the other five, one I wear as is, one was 100% acrylic and was donated, and the other three are too big for me. I reckon most op shops would send them straight to landfill or recycling, so I’ve kept them with an eye to refashioning.

My simplest idea was to turn them into pet blankets for the RSPCA, but the buttons Lucy had added to the split at the back of two skirts looked so much like button bands that I turned one of them upside down and put it on the dress form.

Could I make a cardigan or jumper? I played around but it was clear there wasn’t enough fabric to make sleeves, and the idea went into hibernation.

Then my latest winter dress idea had me looking at the skirts again. Without removing fabric for sleeves, they were long enough to be dresses. Lots of pinning and sketching later, I had a couple of different approaches to consider, depending on how brave I was going to be about cutting into the fabric, and how confident I was that I could sew it on the machine or overlocker.

The brown was my least favourite so I decided to experiment with it. I took out the elastic in the waistband, but found the band still pulled the hem in so it would have to be cut off. There were a few holes at hip level, so I cut there finished the edge on the overlocker, which produced a slight ‘lettuce’ effect. I found I could tuck and dart and avoid cutting at all on the top part, but the bottom hem would require top stitching… across a very stretchy fabric. The prospect of that and the distraction of weaving had me put the project aside for a while.

But I kept the proto-dress on the dress form and every few days would examine it and think, and so eventually the solution hit me: sew it by hand. I unravelled some of the yarn from the waistband to use as thread and got sewing, and a few days later I had this:

Which I’m wearing as I type this. It’s warm and cosy and comfortable and I’m pretty chuffed with the result. I’d probably wear it only in casual settings, but since I spend most of my time at home that’s not a problem.

I’d like to turn the purple skirt into a dress as well, maybe taking the cut and machine sew approach instead, but I have other ideas for the navy one.