Dressmaking!

This will be the last post about non-knitting/crochet matters for a while – it has just dawned upon me that I’ve said little about either of those things despite their being my primary occupation!  Over the past few weeks I have been creating lots of swatches for upcoming designs and I will share these with you later in the year, so watch this space…

In my old life, knitting and crochet was what I did to unwind and forget about the stuff on my desk, which consisted of reports, research proposals and other dense documents related to academic goings-on.  Nowadays, because knitting and crochet is my main occupation, dressmaking has now been upgraded to one of my escapist hobbies.  I used not to have much time for it, but thankfully things have changed!  So I thought I would share some of my recent endeavours with you.

MyFullSkirtsEarlier this year I rooted out an old pattern or two that came free with Sew magazine a few years ago.  This first photo is of 5 circle skirts (to be exact, half-circle skirts) that I’ve made up using various Rowan fabrics, some of which I bought on sale, some of which were from my stash.  We have Kaffe Fassett polka dots (red), Amy Butler Wind Flower from Gypsy Caravan (blue and green), Valori Wells Cocoon (butterflies) and Tanya Whelan Barefoot Roses (pink).  And yes, I am one of those people who makes more than one of something they really love – excessive and mad to some, e.g. my mother, but perfectly sensible to me.  If it’s that wonderful, then why not make it in several different colours?  I’m happy!  Who cares what anybody else thinks anyway?!

McCallsPattern To the left is a McCalls/Laura Ashley wrap dress pattern I bought on ebay; below is the pink fabric I used to make it up, some Rowan voile by Verna Mosquera I found at Liberty in Central London.  I opted for dress A on the right, illustrated in pink.  The flounces were something of a trial – I have never known such painstaking easing around any kind of neckline – but the effort was worth it and it fits beautifully.  Unfortunately I have no pictures of me wearing it but I can show you some Liberty print from my stash that is destined to be version #2 sometime next year, hopefully!  Blue is one of my favourite colours and I’ve been waiting for a pattern deserving of this fabric.

LibertyFabricMosqueraVoile

This last image is of this autumn’s sewing projects.  I found another old pattern freebie from Sew magazine, this time of a trio featuring a wrap dress, skirt and top.  Another rummage through my stash yielded three checked wool fabrics (sadly no details on the fabric and I can’t remember any info about them – they’ve been sitting around for that long!), which I think will be destined for the wrap skirt pattern – two of them for sure.  We’ll see how far I get with those during this busy winter – wish me luck!

AW13sewingAnd some close-ups of the pattern image and fabric:

AW13skirtpatt AW13fabricdetail

You can also see the antique (I use the word in a romantic sense.  On another day I might say euphemistic) sewing machine that I currently use.  It is a Toyota 6800 that my mother used throughout my childhood; I have a feeling that the machine is about the same age as me!  I couldn’t possibly say which of us is older… 😉 Consequently it is very much part of the furniture and I’m very attached to it, having seen it in action for as long as I can remember.  It came into my possession a few years ago when my mum upgraded to a computerized Brother machine, and a very flash model it is too.  It likes to show off with all its pre-programmed stitches.  However, during the making of said dress, I soon saw why she got herself a new sewing machine!  The flounces were too much for the (t)rusty Toyota and I ended up switching to hers for the delicate aspects of making up.  I, too, am coming to the conclusion that just because something is technically operable, doesn’t mean that it is fit for purpose.  True, it is still capable of straight seams, which does get you far…but not necessarily to your destination.  But, as anyone with a toolbox of some kind knows, it’s hard to trade your tools in for newer models, no matter how necessary it might be.  One day the Toyota will be swapped for a Janome.  Then again, when I switched to KnitPro needles it was a very happy day!  The pleasure of using them was equal to that derived from the pleasure of creating something – and still is.  They have been a godsend throughout these weeks of swatching and designing because the process is that much more fluid; the only angst, impatience or annoyance is inside my head as I experiment with different ways of communicating my ideas.  You get attached to your tools and machines: you become accustomed to the noises they make, how they run, their feel and their moods as they faithfully work with and against you through the course of making something.  They are right beside you on every creative journey.  Sentimental, but very true nonetheless.

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