Tuesday, 7 April 2015

I Take Far too Long to Finish Anything

And everything.

So imagine how happy I was in my local fabric shop last week to discover these on sale:

Hurrah!  Given that I'm only now sewing up a shirt I cut out last September, I am rather pleased to find something that makes the project-bundling even more efficient.  So I'm now going through my freezer bags of unstarted and half-finished bits and pieces and clipping together my threads like a obsessed person.  Which I might be.  Ahem.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Holiday Time

So the last few weeks have been a bit frenetic, in a sit-down and rest every other hour sort of a way.  But finally I've finished the holiday wardrobe I set for myself - 2 tops, one dress, one jacket and a pair of linen trousers* - and now I'm all out on packing.

We leave at death o'clock tomorrow morning, so I figure I've just got to get through to then and then I can collapse in the back of the car while husband drives us to France.  There's only intermittent wifi where we're going, so I've decided I'm going to see if I can still live without social media and insta-Google, and I'm sort of looking forward to it.

I've packed us a huge bag of books - from Galley Beggar's latest novel to a 1930s guide to photography - and sketching things, and some yarn to bother, and so on.  I'm taking the laptop - hurrah for things that work offline - and so I've got something to faff with I just downloaded the linen slipper pattern from this month's Love Sewing, nicked the wadding from a bag project that's been going nowhere and took the offcuts from the linen dress so I'm looking forward to a quick and simple project to bring home done.

And now for packing and lists.  And remembering to put the ukulele in the car boot so son can't delight us with it on the way.  And foolproofing the cat food for our lovely neighbour.  And finding husband's driving license. And and and and...

See you on the other side :-)

*we won't talk about the chambray shirt that only got as far as being cut, OK?

Friday, 27 June 2014

Did some faffing while I was too tired to witter

It's been a while.  A long, horrible, while.  Reader, I've been flared-up* to the point where I've been doing the less-than-half-a-mile school run in the car and stomping round with a walking stick**.  I hate this.


I haven't had huge amounts of brainpower available to me, so I've been faffing around with other people's instructions in between sofa sessions with whatever rubbish is on Movie Mix.

Some highlights -

 A TNT Vogue tunic for my sister.  I've had this fabric for ever - purple is one of her favourite colours - and finally got round to making this up. It's Vogue 8116 and in their 'Very Easy' line - which it is.  This is the plain neck version with 3/4 sleeves as per request.  My favourite version however is the draped neckline  - if you can find a lightweight draping linen (and when you do let me know where as it's my favourite summer top fabric) then you've got a tunic you can live in over the summer, keeping covered from the sun without sweltering in mugginess.

As you can see, this is a very thin fabric, chosen as sister is a camisole wearer - so she can get the layering without too much warmth.

 A Lisa Lam purse pattern - the Fortune Cookie Clutch.  This would have gone together in a heartbeat on a sewing machine, but I wanted a hand-project so I put it together over a few evenings in front of the telly.  It's a perfect size for a handbag, holding bits of makeup, handcream and a few pills without taking up huge amounts of space - and opening wonderfully wide so you can find stuff quickly. 
I also put a lining into a RTW linen jacket for my mother.  The reason for the lining was because the linen was snagging and pulling on whatever tops Ma wore underneath.  As her favourite top at the moment is a jersey Breton this wasn't ideal, and she didn't want to limit herself to silky chemise-y things - hence the challenge to me.  I needed to cover as much of the construction as possible with something slithery, without adding bulk and without deconstructing the existing seams.  
This was tricky...  First pattern cutting, which is always good to practise.  I measured and traced and measured and traced, and still got things a bit wrong so I had to ease a lot on the front armscye.

Well, I call it an armscye.  Because it was designed to be unlined, the front facing went all the way across the bust to the shoulder, so a quarter of the sleeve was left dangling when I put the lining together.

As bagging the lining was out, I handstitched it all onto the Hong Kong finished seams to reduce friction - Ma shrugged it on and off for me to demonstrate success - Hurrah!
And I made some trousers and a t-shirt.  Both Burda downloadables from their Stop Traffic collection.  The trousers required a fair bit of grading for sway-back and wide hips, but out of that I've created a sloper for a couple more pairs - one I'm going to cut as-is into a black linen wide-ish leg; the other I'm going to reduce ease to zero and turn the front-facing into a waistband to make some slightly stretch straight-leg jeans.

Photo of trousers?  No.  I'm really not ready to put my arse on the internet ;-)

And the shirt.  Finished just in time for a barbecue at the weekend.  There's some lovely detail on this - which this photo doesn't really show...  So have a badly copied construction view -

The squared yoke I love - giving you bust space without putting in darts, which I don't like in jersey.  However the construction means it can be made in wovens as well as stretch stuff, so I've got a floaty navy lawn to make another version of this which will hopefully be cool enough for France in August.

So, what have I learned in the month since I last posted?  A variety of things which you may or may not find useful:

  • When sewing stretchy things - especially if on something light and slippy and with pattern changes - baste your construction lines with a long zigzag.  Going straight for a built-in machine stretch stitch can lead to hours of unpicking and some new and inventive swears.  
  • Use fusible hemming stuff to interface hems and neckbands on t-shirt type fabrics - this really helps avoid skipped stitches and tunneling on twin-needle straight stitch
  • When increasing the width of a dart on trousers throw a ton of extra height onto the pattern piece - it's easier to adjust to the waistband/facing and then trace the new shape back to the pattern tissue than it is to recut the too-shallow piece from new fabric.
  • And when making a box-tote (I'll put photos up another time) if you want a firmer base without waiting for proper peltex-type stuff from a specialist seller, large-grid plastic canvas from Hobbycraft and similar makes an excellent - and cheaper - substitute.

And the final lesson is - I really need to up my game on the photo front.  I'm not sure that my 10 year old Ixus is really up to the job.  Any recommendations for a replacement?

*Fibromyalgia.  Google it - it's very dull
**I try to channel Gregory House or the dance teacher from Fame but let's face it I'm probably more like one of the old codgers from Last of the Summer Wine

Sunday, 18 May 2014

This is dull, feel free to skip it

So last week was not productive...  Starting with the fabric shop being closed when we went for a fondle (gah!  I should have remembered they close on a Monday), continuing through being asked to put a lining in a linen jacket (something I will enjoy doing but when do I get to it) and with a persistent theme of trying to get Husband's receipts and filing up to date... Sigh.

So the to-do list grows ever longer, but having made a complete cock-up of a t-shirt last week I know what I did wrong and will be more confident (wibble) in making a couple of proper ones in the fabric currently winging its way to me from ebay.

There will be sewing next week.  I'm thinking if I do one day pattern cutting, one day fabric cutting, one day sewing I shouldn't find myself over-reached at any point.  The first thing I'll sew is the jacket lining - not least because I've picked up a very well-behaved anti-static lining, and I need to remember how lovely and well-behaved my sewing machine can be - when I'm not subjecting it to a universal twin needle on non-interfaced lightweight t-shirting (just two of the lessons I learnt last week).

And I'll put up some pictures.  This wittering is all well and good but I feel the need for some photographic evidence of progress.

And I'm also hoping for a bit more energy over the next few weeks.  The temperature's rising - which means I don't get the horrible cold-cramps - and I'm cutting out all sugar and most starch which I think might be a food trigger for some of the aches and pains.  I've been doing this for 5 days now, bar an ice-ream yesterday afternoon which may have been the cause of yesterday evening's awfulness - but that could have been overdoing things generally over the week.

Other distractions?  Well I keep thinking of other things I want to be sewing RIGHT NOW.  As you do.  And one thing I do need by the end of half term is some sleeves.  Yes, standalone sleeves.  I seem to have been persuaded into a skiing lesson at the beginning of June and you have to have arms (and legs) covered.  It's a dry ski slope so falling over equals skin loss.  Giving the current trajectory of the thermometer I don't think any of my jumpers will do, and all of my other tops are either short or 3/4 sleeved - so I'm going to muslin a pair of those "tights for arms" whatsits and see how that goes.  And if it doesn't work I'll be the one flailing around in the a-line black raincoat looking like a particularly uncoordinated crow.

Monday, 12 May 2014

So please don’t think you have to ask me how I am 

because I have Fibromyalgia, and we both have better things to do with our time than me giving you an honest – but depressing – account of what’s currently ailing me.  

Basically, if I’m upright and talking coherently it’s a good day.  If I’m upright and fumbling for words I probably need to be sitting down.  If I’m sitting down feel free to offer me a cup of tea (white no sugar, teabag needs only a brief acquaintance with the water and hardly any milk please).  Oh, and if I’m using a walking stick I’ll probably accept any offers of help but am really lousy at asking for them.  (If I’m wearing sunglasses on a dull day please steer clear and for gods’ sake don’t whistle anywhere near me)

Today (May 12th) is Fibromyalgia awareness day, so this is probably a good day to explain why I can’t be relied on to deliver anything I haven’t already finished.

This, from the NHS Website, is a good place to start:

“Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.
As well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia may also have:

  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • muscle stiffness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • problems with mental processes (known as "fibro-fog") – such as problems with memory and concentration
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and bloating
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it's thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) processes pain messages carried around the body.

Anyone can develop fibromyalgia, although it affects around seven times as many women as men. The condition typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50, but can occur in people of any age, including children and the elderly.

It's not clear how many people are affected by fibromyalgia, although it's thought to be a common condition. Estimates suggest the condition may affect nearly 1 in 20 people globally.

One of the main reasons it's not clear how many people are affected is because fibromyalgia can be a difficult condition to diagnose. There is no specific test for the condition, and the symptoms can be similar to a number of other conditions.”

And what does this mean for me?  Well, I’ve been diagnosed with fibro for about a year, and have probably had it for a while before that – but this last 2 years is when the fibro has rather taken centre stage.  I had to drop my hours at work from 40+ to 20 per week last summer, and was struggling even then to get through the week without collapsing by Thursday or Friday.  So being made redundant earlier this year was frankly a relief, giving me more energy to spend on making sure The Boy is fed, washed and at school on time (as Husband is working away during the week I don’t get to delegate anything till the weekend).  It also means I can take some of the strain from husband, so he doesn’t have to spend the weekend faffing with expense claims and ironing shirts.

Hence faff & witter – an excuse for me to faff with fabric (and yarn) and put together patterns for Gorgeous Things which you – dear reader – may be interested in making yourselves.  And with that, it’s time to put on some slap and head to the fabric shop.  No walking stick today so I’ve both hands free for fondling – hurrah!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Setting Up - Bear With...

  • Email - check
  • Blog - check
  • Twitter - check
  • www - sat my arse on a domain for later
  • Facebook - do I have to?
  • Pinterest - not yet.  I would get far too distracted. Self-knowledge is power.

Mission Statement

To design and make things which meet my needs better than things currently commercially available (Faff) and then write about them in the hope that other people will feel the same way and give me money for patterns (Witter).

Current Status

Working up a pattern for a rucksack which meets all my needs for a daysack.

...more to follow...