I have to say, it is a fabulous feeling to go to work wearing an outfit I’ve made myself, and even more fabulous to have people compliment me on it and be able to reply ‘oh, thanks, I made it myself’.
Necklace – Fair Trade shop
Top and skirt – made by me
Belt – came with skirt
Shoes – Camper
After I’d finished sewing yesterday I watched some of the Craftsy “Sew The Perfect Fit” online class I’ve signed up to. I haven’t been making the test garment along with the course, and I’m not sure I’ll ever go through all the fitting steps the tutor outlines, but it is interesting and helpful watching and the episode I watched yesterday, on upper body adjustments, really helped with my understanding of how a properly fitted bodice should look. It also made me finally realise what the tutorials and sewing books mean when they talk about marking the ‘apex of the bust’, which is part of where I’ve been going wrong. I mean, I’m not stupid; I know what an apex is, but I’d normally associate it with triangles or at least something with a certain amount of pointiness, and busts are not generally pointy unless you’re wearing one of those weird conical bras like Madonna did. My bust is large and rounded and trying to decide which part of the (fairly large) forward-facing part was the forwardmost was really rather problematic. Rather like trying to find the apex of half a grapefruit, with the added problem that said you can only see said half-grapefruit in sideways view and only just far enough away from your eyes to focus on it.
Ah, you might say, but grapefuit have the little indenty bit where the stalk was, or the slightly pointy bit where the flower was. Surely that’s how you determine where their apexes are? To which I reply, well, yes, cleverclogs, but grapefruit aren’t actually perfectly symmetrical and the little indenty bit or the pointy bit might be kind of off-centre and not actually at the apex of the grapefuit at all.
Anyway, what I have now realised is that cleverclogs you are right, and mathematically precise me has been barking up the wrong tree trying to find the exact middle of the most forward-projecting part of my bust, because what the tutorials and sewing books actually mean when they say apex is nipple. Why they can’t just say nipple I don’t know, but anyway, that explains why all my darts end up looking wrong. So armed with this knowledge I might have another go at the Colette Sorbetto next time I have some sewing time and see how I get on!
I woke up this morning determined to have another go at yesterday’s Birgitte tee. Fortunately, there is a fabric shop in our village; even more fortunately, they are open on bank holidays; and most fortunately of all, they had a single reel of Gutterman all-purpose thread in colour 365 left in stock, pushed sideways in the display unit and not immediately obvious to passers-by, so my thread problem was solved. I chopped off the wiggly neckband (I was using the triple stretch stitch on my machine, which is completely impossible to unpick. I think I might just use a zigzag stitch next time), remeasured the neckline using the method illustrated in this post, which came up 10cm shorter than the method I’d been using yesterday of holding the tape measure against the fabric and sliding my hand along to turn the top round, cut a new neckband, and gave it another go.
I cut the neckband wider than the pattern said, 3 inches instead of 4cm, to allow for having lost a bit of the body with the previous neckband, but I’m not sure I really needed to. Saying that, I do like the way the wider band looks.
The top is possibly a bit on the long side; I think it would probably be better tucked in to skirts. I might make the next one a bit shorter.
The fabric is a viscose jersey that was £4.50 a metre from Croft Mill (and therefore cheap enough for semi-practice sewing); I bought a metre and a half because they only sell in 50cm lengths and I don’t think I could quite get a top out of a metre of fabric. It’s got a nice feel and drape to it, though it does cling quite a bit at the back (I don’t think this is a fit issue so much as a clingy-fabric-and-lumpy-body issue).
Anyway, I’m really pleased with it. I can make skirts and tops now! That’s a complete outfit!
I have made myself a new summer skirt, using the McCall’s pattern than seems to have become my default skirt pattern.
Yes, it has penguins on.
And yes, I do intend to wear it to work, penguins or no penguins.
I lined it with a bright green polycotton I bought at Ray Stitch the other week. I hope this will help it keep its shape and also stop it from sticking to my tights.
I also think it’s my best zip insertion ever.
Of course, pride comes before a fall, and after finishing the skirt I went on to attempt another Birgitte tee which was going swimmingly until I added the neckband, which ended up wrinkly and sticking up. I think the band was just too long; I might be able to save the top by chopping the band off and adding a wider one to compensate for the widening of the neckline that would cause. Though as I’ve run out of thread (stretch stitches take an awful lot of thread!) I think that can wait. I think tomorrow’s Bank Holiday might be devoted to knitting instead.
A week ago I was still wearing my winter coat and knee-high boots. For the last couple of days, I’ve been wearing my normal mac, not even the fleece-lined one, shoes, and not even taking a hat or gloves with me. And I walked home this evening along the canal in the sunshine, and the birds were singing, and there were ducks and boats and blue sky and daffodils and leaf-buds on the trees and it was so warm I took the mac off and put it in my backpack.
I’ve even put away some of my winter clothes and got some of my more summery things out. I know all about ‘cast ne’er a clout till May be out’, and both the may-blossom and the month are still weeks away, but I’m desperate for warmth and sunshine and clothes I haven’t been wearing approximately once a fortnight for the last seven months and I’ll risk the dangers of clout-casting for now.
Necklace – East
Dress – White Stuff
Cardigan – Monsoon
Shoes – Clarks
I think it’s done me good, anyway. Sunshine and fresh air and nature are the best medicines for depression I know, but sadly the sunshine is the really key thing and can be a bit elusive.
And when I got home there was something else to make me smile:
Penguin fabric! I ordered two metres of this from Fabric Rehab last week thinking I’d make pyjamas with it, but actually it’s far too gorgeous for that and I think I’ll make a skirt instead. Probably just a plain A-line skirt from the McCalls pattern I’ve used before; I was wondering about trying the Colette Ginger instead but I think matching the penguins at the front seam would be beyond my capabilities. Or maybe I’ll try the Yasmin Yoke Skirt…argh, decisions!
Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter suggests that the best way to figure out your body shape and fitting needs is to take a photo of yourself in fairly form-fitting clothes, draw horizontal lines at the shoulders, bust, waist (or narrowest part of the torso) and hips, and then compare their length. Azzy has been posting her pictures, and it struck me that the pictures I took of my Birgitte tee with jeans probably showed my figure off well enough, so I thought I’d have a go.
The shoulder line is a bit approximate, but it’s clear that despite wearing a GG-cup bra, from the fron my bust isn’t a lot wider than my shoulders. My waist is (a) very high and (b) not particularly small, both of which I knew, but the bottom half of my torso is actually quite a lot wider than the top, which comes as rather a surprise when I have always thought of my chest as being far and away my most prominent feature.
Amy also suggests looking at a side view, and handily I also have this deeply unflattering picture from the Birgitte photoshoot.
Apart from showing that I should really have done a forward shoulder adjustment, I can see that my bust is far more prominent from the side (as, sadly is my stomach) and that I have a serious sway back (which probably doesn’t help with the appearance of my stomach, really).
In terms of translating this to clothing, well, I obviously need to add fabric across my front and take it away across my back, and my waist is high enough that the waistlines of most garments will be in the wrong place. And maybe I should give up on my dream of having a wardrobe full of lovely full-skirted Fifties-style frocks like Dolly Clackett‘s, which I suspect would only exacerbate my lack of waist and larger bottom half, and look for patterns with more gentle shaping that might suit my figure better.
I don’t watch a lot of TV, and have never been keen on ‘reality’ TV, so I wasn’t planning on watching The Great British Sewing Bee last night. But then so many people on Twitter and Ravelry were praising it I thought I ought to at least give it a try before dismissing it, and ended up watching it on iPlayer. It had some interesting bits, but I don’t see why everything has to be a competition these days, and why someone always has to be the ‘best’. It seems as though doing something because you enjoy it isn’t enough any more, and amateurs are encouraged to put themselves forward to be judged by the standards of people who do this professionally.
Now, I think I’m a pretty good knitter, and aspire to be a reasonable dressmaker. But the main reason I knit is because I enjoy it; I love the colours and softness of the yarn, and the way the process of knitting is calming and restful, and how wonderful it is to have a beautiful, unique handknitted item at the end of it. I don’t quite love the process of dressmaking yet (though I did quite enjoy making my Birgitte on Sunday, so I’m getting there!) but I do love knowing that my dressmaking skills will mean I never end up with the same dress as someone else in the office again, and that I can have clothes which are not only beautiful and unique but in styles and shapes which suit me, whether or not those happen to be in fashion. Of course, I love it when people compliment the things I’ve made, but what they think isn’t really the point; I do it because it makes me happy.
Of course, we all do things for different reasons, and I guess there are people who want to get that kind of validation of their skills. And of course there are plenty of people who would like to earn a living from their hobbies (I definitely don’t. Work is stressful, and I think things I enjoy doing for fun would just become stressful too if I did them for money. Rather like the way doing a degree in English Literature has left me prone to long periods when I can’t read for pleasure at all). And lots of people seem to have enjoyed the programme; it just wasn’t my thing at all and I don’t really see the attraction of the competition format. Then again, I don’t like competitions generally; I find them far too tense. I think I’ll stick to Doctor Who in future!
Shawl – Godiva
Jacket – Jigsaw
Dress – Gap
Tights – Accessorize
Boots – Gabor
I made everything I’m wearing today apart from underwear, leggings and slippers. I’m quite impressed with that.
Shawl – Brandywine
Cardigan – Cinnamon Girl
T-shirt – Birgitte Basic Tee
Skirt – Clothkits
Socks – February Lady Socks
It’s ages since I’ve done any sewing. Mostly, I just haven’t had the energy, and by yesterday evening I was starting to wonder if I was even going to manage anything over this five-day weekend. And then today, after I’d had breakfast and hung the washing out and blocked the baby cardigan I spent the first three days of the weekend knitting (pics when it’s dry), I thought I might at least have a go at tracing my size from the Birgitte Basic Tee pattern I bought and printed out months ago, and then I had a go at Maria’s helpful Full Bust alteration tutorial. And then I thought I’d just cut the pieces out, and maybe baste them together, and several hours later I had this.
The fabric is some bargain-basement cotton jersey I got from Croft Mill specifically to practice the Birgitte on, and this is very definitely a practice version – I didn’t have any matching thread, for starters, and this being Easter Sunday all the shops are closed so I made do with dark brown, which tones but definitely shows. And I think I used too big a seam allowance on the neckband, and it kept flipping out, so I trimmed it down and managed to snip a hole in the fabric while I was about it. And I think I’ll make the neckline slightly higher and narrower next time.
I’m really pleased with the fit, though. Maria’s method for the bust adjustment has you close up the ‘dart’ in the side seam and add the extra room to the centre front, which helps the front to skim over my stomach. I might add another half-inch or so to the width of the back next time, as it is a bit clingy there.
But it’s not bad at all. As good a fit as any of my favourite shop-bought t-shirts, and a lot better than many I own. And it was really quick to make.
I can see several more of these in my future!
We’ve just got back from a week in the Wye Valley, with the river just outside our cottage and a view of Tintern Abbey from the living-room windows. The abbey is gorgeous, and very well-preserved.
I did lots of knitting, including casting on for Brenda Dayne’s Tintern Abbey socks.
Mostly, though, it was a quiet week. Now I’m restored to the bosom of my stash, though, it’s another story; my brain seems to have gone into craft-planning overdrive. Rather than spamming my Twitter followers with the host of crafty thoughts that have been tumbling through my head this afternoon I thought I’d post them here (laziest blog post ever – Ed.), in no particular order.
- I really, really want a mustard-yellow skirt. I think I probably have Roobeedoo to blame for that, as hers is so fab, though given the time of year I’m wondering about a summer cotton skirt instead. I could wear it with purple, and red, and teal…
- I have two skeins of leaf-green cotton tencel 4-ply left over from my Lyttelton which would make a lovely summer shawl, but do I want a shawl and a shrug the same colour? Maybe I could overdye the yarn? If I used a blue I’d probably end up with a nice tealy colour.
- Also, I have some pink fabric that I want to overdye. If I did that in blue, would it come out sort of lavender?
- Could I dye both together? I wonder if I could dye the yarn in the machine if I tied the skeins securely? Or would I end up with a tangled mess?
- Oh, hey, if I made the Colette Truffle dress without the overskirt and added sleeves maybe that would actually be the perfect basic dress pattern I’m looking for. How hard can it be to adapt the sleeves from another pattern to fit the armholes?
- I wonder if I should be lining the skirts I make? Will that make them hang better? What sort of fabric should I use? Maybe I could just make some slips instead?
I feel rather as though my head may be going to explode with craftiness any minute…
After downloading the Birgitte Basic Tee pattern, printing it out and taping all the sheets together, my dressmaking progress has stalled. I need to trace the pattern in my size (or sizes – I need a medium for my shoulders and upper back and an extra-large for my waist and hips) and then follow Maria’s tutorial to add a 2″ full bust adjustment. I feel bad about leaving it, when I had such grand plans for working on my dressmaking skills this year, but I think it just requires more energy than I have available on a weekend in February. Partly I think this is just because learning new skills always takes more energy than practicing old ones, but it’s also really difficult to do something which makes me so conscious of the difference between my body measurements and the standard measurements the patterns are drafted to and still maintain a positive self-image, and it does leave me feeling exhausted quite quickly. Maybe I’ll pencil in Easter weekend for getting back to sewing; not only will I have five clear days then, as work is closed on Maundy Thursday as well as the bank holidays, but there will be more daylight and it might even be warmer.
Meanwhile, I have spent quite a lot of the weekend (the bits I didn’t spend sleeping, anyway) working on my Juliana wrap.
I’ve finished the centre and moved on to the mesh section now. I’m surprised how fast it’s going, and am finding it reasonably straightforward. After my last couple of attempts at crochet, which stalled not very far in, I finally seem to have cracked it. I suspect having the solid centre helped, as there was quite a lot of plain crochet before I got to the fiddly bit rather than launching straight into the mesh. I’m enjoying it, anyway, though I think I’m going to work on socks for the rest of the evening as I seem to have an incipient blister on my right middle finger where the end of the hook rests…