There's a difference between delicate and wool on washing machine settings. The radio-edit version is "I felted my handknit socks". The non radio edit version is longer and less polite, I'll spare you that!
This post has been a long time coming, I made the dress in January!! Part of my new year new routine and preparation for an exam I had at the end of Jan was to go into my office at the weekends to study. Which left the weekend evenings free for guilt-free sewing and ta’dah this dress is very much a product of that.
The pattern is a pdf from Pattern Runway. (Etsy link, I didn’t immediately come across it on their website). One of my pages didn’t fit with the rest correctly at all but that was rectified overnight by email even though judging by their blog pattern runway isn’t particularly active anymore. Anyway I got it into my head I would sew a plain black dress for work so I printed this out, and sewed it up with no muslin or alterations. By the time I was finished I thought it was too fancy for work and instead wore it to two different birthday parties. And then gradually included it in my work wardrobe.
The I’m a tree photo at the top is to demonstrate the volume of this dress. It is rather a sack but if you’re not posing with your arms out I like the way it hangs. When I first put it on I felt like a Scandinavian Model all edgy and volumous! That feeling has faded somewhat, probably because its now getting worn to work at least once a week, although if I have a post-work social arrangement I tend to reserve this dress for that day because I think it transitions nicely (mostly because the office attire dress code isn’t overly strict in my place of work!).
The fabric has been in my chest of fabric since October 2010 – I bought it while getting supplies for my dracula costume! - yay for Stash Bustin. I no longer have the receipt but I know it was a mix. Its got the weight of wool but if memory serves me right I think its a cotton/flannel job. It is heavy though, the weight of the dress pulls the front neckline up and back. Maybe closer fitting neck/shoulder area would solve that. The neck is finished off with some store bought grey bias binding that I’ve had hanging about for yonks. You can see from the back photo that I didn’t nail the bottom of the exposed zipper, the one I had was a different size and I didn’t transfer the markings correctly but I kept going anyway. I don’t think any non-sewers have spotted it in my real life comings and goings. Plus I discovered today that it is not actually necessary to getting in & out of the dress, still I like the exposed metal.
Does this happen to you? People seem to decide what they think I should be like, make assumptions and roll from there. For instance?
I have a friend who, in a fresh off her honeymoon glow, told me in quick succession (1) I should paint my nails and (2) she really and truly believed I would meet someone and get married too. Really are they linked? Are you trying to groom me because quite frankly if someone overlooks me because I haven’t got my nails painted because I was too busy doing the fun and interesting things that make me me, well then I don’t want to know them. And secondly, I don’t need reassurance like that because even saying it suggests that some think otherwise. In this particular scenario I know she meant well, and I think she sees in me what she feared for herself. We both broke up with our respective long term boyfriends around the same time but while I took myself off around the world and then back to college to undertake various courses, she met and began dating her now husband. Different folks, different strokes, but that trying to mould me into what others might expect still bothers me a bit.
In a similar way after I’d been unceremoniously dumped by the guy I’d been seeing for a little while last year, my reaction was to write a cathartic post and try to just get on with my life. A work colleague told me that I should be out there internet dating so I could find someone. Really? I think that might be your priority not mine…
It seems that if you don’t fit with the accepted standard of “normal” some people don’t know what to do with you so they try to reign you back into a box they understand. The same colleague who wanted me to sign up for internet dating also seemed to think that my ideal aesthetic would be to look like Zoey Deschanel’s character in New Girl and repeatedly brought the show up to me, even though I kept telling her I didn’t like it so I hadn’t been watching it. Eventually the last time she told me she thought I’d like her clothes she was surprised when I told her I found the look too prissy/girly/something. Bare in mind this person sees me five days a week, week in week out, as well as at whatever social occasions might spring up. But rather than looking at me and seeing what I make for myself as an indicator of the kind of style I like, she leaps from not the same as the other girls, to must be vintage, must be Deschanel… Nope.
My defacto brother in law has been slagging me for many months now over whether I am a “hipster” or not. To us, we take the word to mean the type of person who is always and overly concerned with not only having the latest must have cool-kid stuff, but also to be seen to have it. The joke began when he read an article in one of the Sunday papers with hipster house pointers; Record player? Check. Bicycle(s)? Check. Cardboard animals? Check (I have a large moose hanging in my stairwell, I love him!) and to top it all off, I was getting a ukulele off my mother for Christmas, so Check on that one too along with anything else I’ve missed like having framed prints up on the walls. Normally I just brush him off when he brings it up, he’s joking, and its all meant in a good natured harmless way.
Until last weekend he threw my sewing machine at me (obviously not literally!) as the top marker for me being a hipster. WHAT? I got my sewing machine in 2004. Thats over EIGHT years ago. I’d been going to fashion design evening classes for a good year before that. I’ve been making and wearing my own clothes since before hipster entered his vernacular as something to be made fun of. In short I am not a hipster and don’t dare to even suggest that I sew because I think its what the coolkids are into.
Designing and sewing clothes is what I do. Because I love it. Because I can see clothes in my head that I want to wear and I have gone about learning how to make that happen. Because it’s what I want to do, if you were to take away everything else, even music &/ books, I would choose designing, drafting, sewing, every time.
Which brings me round to this lovely section of the internet. Many of you have said it before, the internet sewing community is a wonderful thing. I was extolling the virtues of it to my father the other day. He is on flickr and had noticed my first me-made-may pic go up, followed by a clatter of supportive and wonderful comments.
But more than that, what I love about the people whose blogs I read and who read mine is that we don’t foist our opinions or styles or ideals on each other. We’re all different and we’re all ok with each others differences. Case in point? Lisa over at Small Things was kind enough to nominate me for a Liebster Award – Thanks Lisa! – but what I loved even more than her awarding it to me? The words she used to do so: “Louise sews and knits things I want to wear. This lady sits just outside the box and that’s what I like.” Just like that.
And, if you have read this far without falling asleep or wandering off while I continue to rant, let me reward you with my current musical obsession. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I’ve had this album on repeat for the last 48 hours. So. Amazingly. Heartbreakingly. Good. Plus if ever there was an affirmation to live your life by, “I am the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever going to meet” has to be up there with the best of them!
It seems that March is the month that I get the urge to knit a hat. It is also fair to say I have a grá for yellow hats. Last year I went for a murky mustard but this year colour saturation was the order of the day with this delightfully bright Malabrigo Merino Worsted (cadmium colourway) that I ordered from This Is Knit. I’d had it in my hand many a time when I was actually instore but of course once I had decided I had to have this hat asap I also had to have the yarn asap so that meant ordering online and getting it posted out to me instead of waiting until late opening later on in the week, One evening of tangling myself up in yarn while winding into balls later and I was good to go! The navy is alpaca yarn left over from this jumper. It’s much lighter in weight than the malabrigo and I didn’t want it to get lost so I wound it into two smaller balls so I could knit each stitch with two strands. I love this pattern, I saw Jen from Grainline’s version on instagram and promptly bought my own copy. It was my first time knitting colour-work like this and I think it was a really good introduction. It wasn’t hard, I don’t know how long it took me to knit it (I actually have no memory of the knitting – must’ve been too zen!) but I’d guess a week of working on it in bed in the evening infront of netflix! I used two tutorials. First this super stretchy cast on video on youtube. I wanted to cast on less than the pattern for the ribbing because my head is small and I didn’t want it to be too loose. I increased back up to the pattern amount of stitches during the first row after the ribbing so I could then follow the pattern without any differences. I am particularly proud of the inside (yes, I show it to people!) and that is due to the other tutorial I used; KristenMakes’ video about carrying your colour through and knitting it in invisibly in the back of the stitches to keep everything neat and secure on the inside. If you squint you can make out the diagonal lines of yellow stitches running down the hat holding up the navy between each speckle. I did my usual trick of a two colour pom pom, just a little splash of yellow to carry through from the hat! If I have no recollection of the knitting I sure as hell remember the pom pom. Trying to cut all of that wool off the cardboard template was like torture on my hands, so sore. I wasn’t mad about the finish of the pom pom until I got hit by a blizzard on my bike on the way to work one morning. The snow/water plumped up wool in the pom pom so it looks much better since! This hat got the ultimate compliment off my lil’sister who tried it on, pulling it right down onto her head rather than slouching, and promptly asked could I make her one too. Apparently the shape of the hat is what she looks for but can’t find in shops so we’ll be going yarn shopping at some point before the summer’s out for her version! It’s been getting pretty regular wear since I made it in March but I kind of hope that it’ll be too warm to wear much (I tend to wear hats in the evenings in summer) over the next few months so that it won’t be worn out by next winter.
remember this forlorn lament about the struggle to find footwear?! i have a pair of navy ethletics that I wear alongside my very old and very worn out (pre nike takeover) converse and am very happy with them, infact I’ll more than likely order another more colourful pair at some stage over the summer. But i don’t always want to wear runners so every so often i renew my search for conscience friendly shoes and boots and low and behold I have just placed an order that I am very excited about! this article came up during a search for ethical shoes, I can’t believe I never found this site before, it’s called vegetarian shoes for gawds sake, where has it been hiding?! First I was going to try them out with these because they’re relatively inexpensive but then I noticed shipping was only a fiver more for two items so I had a quick look through their boots offering, swooned and added to basket.
I will update in due course, in the meantime hurry up fear an phoist! Also Roo if you’re browsing check them out, based on the very helpful comment you left me last time I think you’ll be interested too!