Saturday, February 25, 2017

From before and for later

I could have called yesterday's post "During". Here are the bookends.

In January (before broken wrist) I made another version of McCalls 7351 for my son's girlfriend. She had tried on my dress and loved it and I was so happy to make one for her. I had a few cotton print lengths in stash and offered them up. She chose a light and crisp cotton print.

What a busy print! Could benefit
from a solid dark belt...
So far so good but after I started thinking about how the fabric would translate into the dress, I had doubts. The original dress was made from beefy quilting cotton and the chosen cotton is definitely in blouse-weight category (think cotton lawn). If I had been making this for myself, I probably would have gone with a fuller skirt or switched to McCalls 6996. However I had a commission and I had to "make it work" as some TV sewing personality or other has apparently said.

Mulling it over I found a solution - when you need your fashion fabric to have a different hand, underline it for heaven's sake! I had lots and lots of this fabric. The upper portion of this dress is structured, as is the front band. My only concern was the skirt. So I cut it out twice.

Inside view of side & waist seams
I used the doubled skirt as an opportunity to do a completely clean finish at the waist seam. Order of construction was as follows:

  • Make bodice (yoke, collar etc) without sewing side seams. 
  • Sew right side (RS) skirt pieces to corresponding bodice pieces, RS together as usual.
  • Sew wrong side (WS, underlining) skirt pieces to corresponding bodice pieces, RS skirt to WS bodice. Sew along stitching line established at step 2.
  • Press skirt pieces down with waist seam allowances encased between the layers below the waist seam.
  • Trim lower edge of WS skirt pieces to hem fold line.
  • Baste corresponding skirt layers together (ensuring no rippling or unevenness), WS together, at side edges and CF. The WS skirt is shorter.
  • Then treat skirt pieces as a single unit when constructing front band and side seams.
  • Sew the hem as instructed in the pattern, but folding the RS skirt at hem line so it completely encases the WS skirt. 
Mission accomplished. The dress awaits warmer weather and I hope it will be a comfy but stylish summer dress for the recipient.

At Christmas, I started another hand knitting project but its completion will now have to wait until after the cast is off. So far at least, hand knitting is completely unworkable with an immobilized wrist.

Upper back and collar
Colour is pretty accurate
This is an incredibly complex top down cardigan made in a fingering weight yarn. The pattern is Woodfords by Elizabeth Doherty. It has tons of short rows, tons of broken rib, and you dare not stop concentrating for even a minute while knitting. I got mixed up in counting and suddenly had the wrong size worth of stitches on my needle after doing the decreasing below the sleeve openings. I'm not too worried as this sort of yarn can be blocked to shape. 

The pattern was designed for a yarn that seems to have qualities similar to Shetland yarn (not smooth or soft, woollen spun, lots of loft). I had a sweater quantity of yarn that I thought would work (vintage stuff in an amazing colour that is predominantly turquoise but has vivid purple aspects) and set to it. 

Aaaand I got down to about an inch into the "skirt" part of the pattern before abruptly having to stop. Now my timing is off for this to be finished in time to wear in late winter/early spring 2017. 

Stay tuned - I am pretty sure that knitting will be excellent physiotherapy once this blasted cast is gone. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

An excuse

So I broke my wrist. Unless you have done this yourself, you likely are not completely aware of how very useful your wrists are. I wasn't either. Luckily it's my left wrist and I am right handed. However, that left hand? It's also extremely useful. It is a very good helper to that dominant hand. 

All those things I like to do: sewing, knitting, skiing, curling, swimming? All off the agenda for 6 weeks. My timing? Impeccably bad: the first day of my annual 5 weeks of leave from my office job. During which I planned to do what, you might ask? Answer: sew, knit, ski, curl and swim. 


I BEGGED to go back to work, believe me. I will take my time off after I heal, thank you very much! (At least I can still think; and my typing while awkward is improving.)

So, I'm three weeks in. My wrist is definitely getting stronger. I thought, perhaps I could sew something. And I did. I made this top. It took me at least three times as long as it would if I had two fully functional wrists, but I did it. 
#111, December 2005

This is a pattern from an ancient Burda World of Fashion magazine (December, 2005, #111) that I've been meaning to make for ... 11.5 years apparently. I finally got around to it. 

As Burda conceived this top, it was made from a woven (front cut on bias) and it had a waist band/tie affair. I made it from a knit (thin, drapey) and lengthened it to be a regular hemmed knit top. 

As is usual, I ignored Burda's actual instructions and improved the garment. I doubled the shoulder/sleeve pieces instead of making them as Burda instructs (fold edges and topstitch). I used some white power mesh for the second layer rather than self fabric since I wanted them to be firm and stable but didn't want any show through. I used a strip of self fabric (cut lengthwise from the selvedge) to create a firm edge at the back neck and under the arms (Burda called for bias strips here). 

And I extended the self facing at the cowl edge to make it deeper/more weighty and to allow for a clean finish at the junction with the front edge of the shoulder/sleeve piece. At left is a view of the front shoulder area (wrong side). 

I need a white evening glove
for my right arm...
The fabric is a miscellaneous knit print which wasn't really a very good choice for a sewer with only one fully functional wrist. Its slipperiness augmented the degree of difficulty. However I am satisfied. I managed to cut the garment with the pattern centred, both front and back. I remembered to think about what bits of the pattern would be hitting what bits of my anatomy. I managed the tricky bits to produce an acceptable (not perfect) outcome. I did it more or less one handed. And I have enough of this fabric left (which I really love) to make another top!

For my next trick, however, I plan to work with a stable woven.