Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Knitter sweater

Greetings earthlings readers! Tell me, have you been reading Karen's tips on blog writing? I've long admired the writerly and editorial skill with which she crafts her posts, and I'm finding this mini-series inspiring. True fact: when I was a kid (and in fact not-so-secretly still) all I ever wanted to be was a Writer: capital W, obvs, I'm talking about actual Literature here (capital L). Anyway, Karen said out loud what I've believed all along, which is that of course, not all writing has to be Literature. Us blogging seamsters?  We're writers already! And you know what? If someone in publishing said it, it TOTALLY counts. Childhood ambition: achievement unlocked!

So yay, there I was, all fired up and inspired to tell you a story.  But ok, it turns out that 37 year-old me runs into the same problem as 7 year-old me. Sometimes, you just don't have much of a story to tell.

Totally had not realised how not-black my black leggings are these days.

I made a sweater.

I love it.

The End.

Ok, not The End.  I'm presuming you want details :-)

I also presume you've already guessed the biggest one, due to this pattern's total ubiquity at the moment: yes of course - it's a Grainline Linden sweatshirt.  Plain black, because I happened to have 5 metres of this lusciously stretchy sweatshirting on hand (and will totally make matching Hudsons with the rest!) and then tarted up a bit, because why not?  Though actually, I can think of many reasons not to emblazon a slogan across your boobs. I don't think I've ever before bought or worn a top embellished in such a way. Partly a placement thing: rtw slogans don't so much splash across my boobs so much as splurge between boobs and neck, and that does not look cool (it looks ridiculous). Also, what slogan? I'm not exactly going to shout BABE with my bust, or something.

But I had this silver sparkly fusible flocking. I found it in Hema and couldn't just leave it there.  And the idea of slogan-ing this sweater wouldn't let go - all I needed was a word I could wear, if not with pride then at least without embarrassment.

Once I had one, all it took was a few hours minutes of font-finding, fifteen minutes to cut it out with a craft knife, and five minutes more to iron it on.

Now, can I brag shamelessly about that piping? (It's stretch piping btw, found in a local shop and compulsively bought for the novelty value).  Here's an underarm seam junction for you, from the inside:

And here it is again, from the outside:

BAM! See that join?  PERFECT! << Little smug happy dance >>  I don't know what it is about matching up seams, but I am quite obsessive about it. In the rarely-visible armpit region, I will usually allow seams to not line up with absolute precision - but on this, with contrast piping involved, I would have got the heebie jeebies if they didn't. Seriously. (Sometimes I do worry about whether sewing is actually good for my mental health).

Ah, tea and knitting. These two things in combination can cure almost all ills.  Except the one where you rip out your attempted thumb gusset six times before getting it right.  Then it gets a bit love-hate. Sometimes, wine is needed.

I got there in the end, and conquered second glove syndrome while I was at it. I'll have a pair by the end of winter! Or more like AT the end of winter, but they'll be happy enough in a box until next year.

So, that's that. A knitter sweater. It goes without saying that I've made more Lindens, doesn't it? I'm experimenting with sizing: this one is a size 6 at the shoulders with a 2cm full bust adjustment (slightly fiddly, as you're also adjusting the length of the sleeve seam - would anyone be interested in a quick'n'dirty raglan FBA tute?), and I graded out to a 12 at the waist/hips.  For my subsequent two Lindens I've made a straight size 12 - they're a bit boxier than this, but slightly more comfortable - this one pulls a little at the shoulders. I'll show you them soon; this pattern has so much scope for customising, they're both completely different. The one I'm wearing right now is a rather unexpected view B...

Would you, or do you, wear slogans on sweaters?  And how do you feel about embellishments?  I've rarely tried them before, but now I think I'm a convert!


Monday, 9 February 2015

Not a bomber jacket

I'm not sure whether Rigel Bomber January kicked my butt into gear or just kicked my butt.

It seems I'm not the only one to have purchased the pattern and promptly sat on it for over a year.  I really wanted to sew it too, but it just kept getting queue-jumped. So when I read Sonja's post about a January bomber jacket sewalong, I knew I was in. What better way to start a new year than by ticking off a big unfinished idea from the last?  My butt --> kicked into gear!

However. I also started the new year by going back to work after several months off (see here).  It was not really a good time to set myself ambitious targets. Or any targets. It was a good time to tread carefully back into the routines and go easy on myself. Which, to my own surprise, I did - no late night sewing, no rushing, no self-imposed stress. Go me!  But of course, this all added up to no finished Rigel bomber either --> my butt kicked.

Now that it is finished, can I just say? TOTALLY kicked ass on my Rigel bomber, January deadline or not.  First ever welt pockets? BAM perfect! Slinky satin lining complete with pleat? Yes thank you ma'am, I has it! And ooooh I so, so love me a neat and tidy metal zip. I could just look down at that all day (if I didn't, you know, have to look where I was going and stuff).

The outer, pre-quilted fabric was a coupon from the Chien Vert, the lining and ribbing  from the bargain basement of Berger. Black polycotton scraps for the pocket bags, and the zip came from Gold Fingers - which, heads up for those in or around Brussels, stocks the most amazing selection of zips at equally amazing prices (that's amazing as in, cheap, in case of doubt :-).  The whole lot had been sitting ready in a bag, with matching thread, since about September - I could hardly have been more ready to sprint out of the starting blocks come January!

Mid-January, I opened and examined the bag of Rigel-to-be. I got out my pattern, did some head-scratching. Puzzled over the pattern pieces and scratched my head some more. In the end, I had to suspend disbelief and admit that whichever way I looked at it, this fabric - which I'd bought specifically for this project and by now had my heart set on, and I remember checking the yardage requirements and everything yes REALLY - just, well. It just wasn't big enough.

I would insert some gnashing of teeth here, for the sake of storytelling. But the truth of the tale is that my thoughts, quite surprisingly and indeed almost gleefully, went: OH WELL. Necessity is the mother of invention!

Oh, did I mention? It's not actually a bomber jacket at all.

Because when faced with a fabric shortage, by far the most obvious thing to remove from a raglan jacket pattern is the sleeves. Raglan sleeves are fabric eaters!  Not only that, but for months I'd actually been keeping my eyes on the high street for a gilet that met my exacting requirements, and until the "but how am I going to get sleeves on this coat" moment, it hadn't occurred to me at all to just make one.

Once that thought process had happened, it was just a hop, skip and jump to mashing up the Rigel Bomber with the Undercover Hood, un-raglanned and with armholes from the Purl Bee's vest drawn on.

I honestly have never felt much desire to draft patterns from scratch, and I still don't. But this process of creating an entirely different design out of three other separate designs was heaps of fun. And so satisfying, remembering to add or subtract seam allowances where needed, re-drawing curves that looked and worked better, figuring out the whole thing by myself.  I am so incredibly pleased and proud of how this turned out. Not only did I 'draft' it without a hitch, it's also basically my most utterly perfect vest. I couldn't have planned it better.

Bonus husband comment:
Ooh nice fabric! I like this one very much.  It's a... <looks searchingly at me> ... oh right, a gilet. Can you make me a gilet exactly the same? Except, without the fur. Or a hood. And with sleeves.

All man-bomber-jacket pattern suggestions welcome, on a postcard adressed to:

c/o Just Let Me Finish All the Other Sewing First,