Silver bells – part IV…otherwise known as oooph.

Oooph is the sound I made when after 3+ hours of trying to kitchener stich a mere inch of 1×1 rib I discovered after a steam block that the back of my vest is too wide/ugly! Like a kick in the guts.  ;-?

Lets backtrack a little and highlight the positive. I am nearly there and the neck didn’t cause me too much grief – though I did re-do the top of one side 3 times to get it down to a 3 bell finish. Overall the front neckline passes muster.

Now the negative. The back of the neck is too wide or something, likely as my back  seams to be narrower than my front. I believe the problem stems from my absolutely brilliant idea to try and add a bit of shaping on to the back. What a mistake. (what a knob)

Look at the top of the vest below. See anything funny?
vest v1
May I present exhibit one, oh jury of the court?

exhibit 1


Note the way the bastard seam curls over to the front? Oh, and if you look closely above, note how the back neck looks a little wavy, like it might be a titch too wide? Yeah. Great. Let the oophing commence.

And below is the horrific kitchener seam at the back of the neck which took so much pain and suffering.kitchener
You may be saying ‘it doesn’t look too bad, what is she going on about?’. This is because I also went over bits and duplicate stitched to fake it so that it would look better. All of which I now have to laboriously unpick. Grr. Hisss.

I am tempted to throw in the towel on today as I just don’t feel I can stand any more disappointment, though feel that maybe I should switch to sewing and tackle the bias tape I have been avoiding. (It appears that though I love the look of bias binding, I hate the process!)
Above is its current state.

I think it best to leave it for the day though.


‘Of a certain age’

We’ve all heard the term ‘of a certain’ age used to refer to women. If I really think about it, this whole topic and attitude is a bit gendered and mildly sexist, but have to admit that there is a point in most women’s lives when you start thinking ‘is this too young for me?’.

And I have finally reached it.

People often assume I am younger than I am and I think it comes from the fact that I aspire to act much less than my age (every day, all day), so tend get away with more than most people would, I suspect. 😉

But now that I might be able to sew anything I want – in any fabric I want – I think I need to be a bit more selective in the things I choose to make in certain prints.

For example, I keep finding myself drawn to fabrics like this fab print by Sarah Watts – Timber and Leaf called Fox Portrait:

Or how about this one from Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus fabric collection (what a great name!):

Super fun, but see where I am going with this one?

I am thinking either tank tops, like the Wiksten or Sorbetto, or skirts/cropped trousers, though the pattern above might only work as a little accent piece like a belt.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of plain linens and Nani Iro prints in my queue as well, like this subtle-y gorgeous Odilon Redon-looking one:

Thing is, I get really excited when I see certain prints, but unlike with the wonders of Ravelry, sewing doesn’t seem to have as big of an online presence for researching how certain prints/fabrics look in real life (and a good number of these fabrics seem to show up on Google images in children’s clothing…which I think might be telling me something I blatantly choose to ignore. So there.)

And London being, well London, the chance of finding any of these fabrics in an actual store to check out before buying is a pipe dream.

Since nice fabrics are so expensive what do all you UK seamstresses out there do? Order gazillions of samples?

Help me out here, folks. Is there something other than Burda Style that I am missing?

When you miss your calling as a bell-ringer…

More sewing adventures this week, as I am still slowly/gently working on my Nightingale vest to give my wrists a bit of a break after my flare up last week.

As I am not ready to spend big bucks on the linen I NEED for my Tova dress, I decided that the second thing I would sew would be a simple Sorbetto top by Collette.

I managed to get a small amount of lovely Japanese cotton voile on sale and figured it would be an easy sewing-confidence booster. This is the fabric, though in real life it isn’t as dark and more of a lovley denim-y blue:

Sorbetto is a simple tank top and a free pattern to boot, so there are a zillion examples out there in the blog-sphere. 
This makes it a good beginner project as you can read up on other’s experiences of the pattern before taking the plunge.

After reading how others had been knocking this top up in an hour to two (you know who you are! Hmmph), I thought this would be super simple and straightforward.  Then learned something new about my body shape.

Apparently, not only do I have a sway back but the width across my back is shorter than in front! (The latter is the big news flash!). You think I might have figured this out with the big pleat I put in on my Tova dress, but I thought I had just screwed something up along the way!

So to get the back fabric to fall nicely and not bunch like I have a bit of hump in my mid back I not only have to take the back curve in across the back, I also have to shorten the width vertically – a big cross across the pattern’s back! Now this might not seem like a big deal to experienced sewers, but to someone doing it for the first time BY MYSELF without a dress form…well, let’s just say it is amazing I am not scarred from all the pins that poked and scraped me in various tender places on this journey! ;-?

I luckily found a series of tutorials from the Miss P. blog that showed pretty clearly how to go about altering the toile (which I did make this time, thankfully!) and then the pattern. I also followed her tutorials on altering the bust dart and rotating excess armhole material to the new dart. Phew.

That was as much as I could handle for one day. Tomorrow I hope to redraft the sleeve and neck on the front and do the second toile fitting.

One hour?? HMMMPH, I say again. ;-D

Tova – first dress

I finished my first linen dress last weekend (a Wiksten Tova dress with mods). It went surprisingly smoothly, overall. I managed to add inseam pockets, did french seams all the way through and even made continuous bias binding (that was interesting!). All fairly smoothly and painlessly…

Until I got to the neck binding.

I had been dreading the bias binding at the collar and either I psyched myself out, or was spot on with my paranoia! It sucked. I must have re-done bits of it at least 5 times before I was satisfied with it.

First I tried it on the outside of the collar but it looked awkward and amateur-ish so off it came. I also realised that I should have cut more material off the seam allowance as I had decided not to add the collar or sleeves. Whoops (toile anyone? I need to find some cheap calico, though this likely means a trip to the dreaded Ikea, which I avoid like the plague. Why can’t Ikea do proper online shopping? They would sell so much more.).
failed neck first
Another glitch was that the back seemed to gape outwards a bit at the back of the neck, so I ended up putting in a pleat to bring it in (box pleat?)…pinned above and sewn below. (please ignore the bingo wings!! Wow. Talk about a view of yourself you don’t normally see…or want to.)
first dress pleat
So here she is. Comfy and very airy for the summer.
tova dress
It is funny, I am much more thrilled with my finished knits and I don’t know if this is because of the better quality finish I can now get in the knits or if it is just the greater time investment. It is weird. I am proud of the dress, but a bit ‘meh’ at the same time, whereas I am still – daily – thrilled with my Audrey! It might be the yarn. I have turned into a huge yarn-o-phile and get such a kick out of different yarn qualities…

Anyway, psychological dissection aside – I am ready to take on the more complex Tova version now with sleeves and collar. I went to The Cloth House in Soho yesterday and they have some gorgeous linen fabrics, but I just can’t justify the price until I get much better! I have been trying to find cheap-ish yarn-woven black linen or linen/cotton blend to do a full-sized version (3-3.5yds) but the cheapest I have seen is £14/m.  Still a bit steep for beginner projects.

If anyone knows of a good supplier for nice light linens on this side of the pond I would love to hear of it…EU as well!

Taking the plunge

I have been so inspired by reading about the sewing projects that pop up on my regular blog reads that I am taking the plunge – properly this time.

No off the cuff skirts or free form alterations, as in past… I am going legit and have bought a pattern, Wiksten’s Tova.

image Wiksten

I am hoping that the last year+ of constant knitting has instilled me with more patience and that after many lacklustre and frustrating attempts in the past, will be able to pull it off this time

I picked up this length of vintage linen, below, while at the seaside a few weeks ago and the plan is to sew a sleeveless linen smock/shirt/shift-y dress. I plan to make a few alterations to make this a simpler, and therefore hopefully more successful, first attempt.
tova linen
I am going to use the wrong side of the fabric for the body of the dress and the brighter, printed side for the yoke and pockets. (I really love the faded ‘palimpsest’ effect of the dye soaking through the fabric and was drawn to the fabric when it was inside out! It is a faded orange and purple-ish grey that shimmers delicately together and reminds me of my favourite intaglio print from my undergrad)

Below is the pattern being pieced together as I bought the digital version online.
I might actually finish this one! Fingers crossed.

A huge thank you to Gail, JoKristin and Karen for help and the gentle kick in the ‘seat area’ to give sewing another try through their inspiring projects and posts! And Gail – a big, huge thank you for pointing this pattern out as a slightly easier option than the Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt pattern I have been eyeing up for over a year!