Friday, 13 January 2017

UFO progress!

I am delighted. I was able to pick up The White Jacket again which had been a most aggravating unfinished object for several years.  I started numbering my projects when I began to seriously sew again a few years back.  This is project number S9!  That's how long ago this is.

This is how far I got today after some pressing and general fiddling about:

I 'only' need to do body and sleeve hems now

The photo below showed (half of) the stage I was at which gave me so much trouble.  I had followed the pattern quite faithfully and found that the shoulders are much too wide on me.  I thought it was going to be such a long-winded and time-consuming endeavour to unpick the sleeveheads and move them inwards by a good centimeter.

Until I started the first one. I took the shoulder on the left in and the right shoulder is the 'before' picture. Isn't that a huge difference?  The sleeve just dips off the shoulder on the right and makes the jacket look very home made. That one centimeter (or so) pulls the whole jacket off whack.

I literally cannot believe how little time it took to remedy the situation.  That should be a lesson to me to stop putting things off for so very long!

I had some other concerns that caused the delay. The jacket was supposed to have a lovely contrast material overlay of lace or similar on the lapels. See pattern:

I had decided against the mock pocket opening fairly early on - I didn't think that they would look good on my bigger figure and wouldn't add that much anyway.

But I was quite keen on those lapels.  They are the reason why I picked this pattern.  Even though I didn't want to include the other design feature (those black pocket borders) and also lengthened the sleeves.  These three quarter sleeves just look odd to me.

I had such a tough time trying to decide what contrast material to use.  None of the lace I either had or looked to buy was right.  Then I considered various ribbons and braids, some of these I bought (see the photo above), I just couldn't get all that enthusiastic about any of them.

I think I wanted a lace very close to that on the pattern envelope (how unimaginative is that?) but couldn't find it.

Encouraged by our upcoming UFO planning sewalong I was thinking about the whole project early in the morning when I had lots of time and no pressure to be anywhere.  It's very freeing: you know that you don't have to jump up and act on any sewing decision then and there, and it's just a lovely, relaxing time to think things through.

Not for the first time, this turned out to be a very useful exercise for me.  I visualised the steps I would carry out to get the lapels looking the way I want: to cut the lower layer smaller than the upper so the stitching line would not show up. Same thing for attaching the lapels to the front side seams: I would need to pay attention to the turn of cloth space needed and it all felt like a lot of fiddling around.

Plus I hadn't even washed my sample with the ribbon sewn on!  I would have been extremely annoyed with myself if any of the black colour had come off onto the lovely white jacket if I hadn't washed it.

So I finally had a very clear thought: I have masses of sewing projects that I started, it will feel incredibly good to get some of them completed and I have to admit to myself that I will not be able to finish this jacket any time soon if I have to faff about with it for much longer.  Plus: how much do I like these lapels when I think about the bother of getting them done?

Answer: not all that much.

So leave them off.  What a relief!  It was the best decision I could have made.  If I do ever want a jacket that has lapel lace overlays then I can start another project as soon as I have a lace I want to use.  And then maybe I won't use this odd pattern that has lapels as separate pieces.

I might write about this element of the pattern another time because it seems odd to me for lapels to be separate to the front jacket pieces. The whole stitching technique described in the instructions doesn't feel very promising - there is a lot that could go wrong.  But as I said I might write about this another time and can then include a photo of the instructions that make it clearer what they are asking for.

In danger of this post becoming too long yet again.  I can't help myself, I just attached straps to a tote bag that is taking much, much longer than I had hoped.  Here it is:

I "just" need to add lining to the inside so the black bottom doesn't catch too much dust and debris. The corner seams would just be dust traps.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

What about this UFO?

Do you want to join a virtual sew-along?  (January 2017)

I am planning a virtual "Sew-along" with my sewing group: look over unfinished objects (UFOs), otherwise known as WIPs (Works in Progress) - and consider whether to chuck, alter or finish.

And oh boy! Do I have a lot of material to work with on this one!  It's downright embarrassing to be honest.

I already posted about a couple of projects on the group's website ( - London Dressmakers). I've since remembered a lot more, or found them when I looked through a basket I've long left alone.  Oh my word, it's horrifying.

I would start projects, run into some kind of issue with it (or maybe just get bored?), decide that I'd work on it again when I am in the right 'head space'... forget all about it... Pick it back up for a look and then promptly lay it aside again.

That's what I kept doing.  Did I mention it's horrifying?

I desperately need this virtual event to motivate myself into looking into the recesses harbouring long forgotten items that I probably don't even want to think of again.  I don't know if I find it reassuring that one of the sewalong's options is to chuck anything that I don't want to carry on with?  Or does the thought make me feel anxious: I would also be throwing away my hopes and dreams and aspirations wrapped up in that never realised item?

I need to get over that, I cannot just let things lie around and become oppressive, I really can't.  That's not good for your soul, let alone your sewing mojo.

I must say though that I started to think about some sewing WIPs in the morning before I need to go and do anything else: I think through what my next step on a project is or if there is some kind of difficulty.  Because I know that I don't have to get up and tackle that challenge right then and there, my early morning thinking time is quite pleasant and more productive: no pressure.

I have actually had an idea or two of how to tackle a UFO that may even help, we'll see (this is about the White Jacket, which I have now posted about).

For now I will identify those projects that I want to include in our sewalong (I can't do them all) and maybe plan a couple more blog posts around them. I already blogged about my tunic with the clever pockets.

Do you want to join in virtually? (Time of writing: Jan 2017)  Click through and describe your UFO/s in the comments and let us know what your thoughts are about it - the sewalong is on for two weeks, and can easily be extended.  There is a photo album to post pictures (close-up shots of details are particularly useful). If you need advice then the others might be able to come up with something, so use the comments to ask!

It'll be fascinating to see if we can get some of those old projects kick-started again. Happy thinking, planning and sewing!

Monday, 9 January 2017

My sewing threads

I bought a wonderfully big rack that holds 105 spools of sewing thread.  I am incredibly lucky to be able to hang this up so I have all sorts of colours available whenever I need, and within easy reach. That's particularly useful because I swap and change between projects a lot.

I have this rack hanging next to the window that is in the perfect spot for matching fabric to thread colour.  At least in daylight hours so I need to plan a bit in winter.

I took the photo for the project, but at least it shows the rack

I used to have a lot of different colours and have since either given away or used up some that I don't need. I kept mainly those colours that I want to wear so there are no muddy greens or orange hues left now. I still have a spool or two that I use for basting, but that's it.

Because I have this much space and only those colours that I use, I often find that I already have the right colour that I need for a new project.  I can't even begin to say what an advantage and sheer relief it is not to have to pop out and buy the blasted thing before I can throw myself into the next project. Having to go on a shopping expedition would smother my sewing mojo even more, I'd much rather have more thread than I know what to do with.

I have run into the issue of trying to use a thread though that had gotten too old and brittle: it shredded like mad at the needle and even a new needle wouldn't remedy it (always worth a try: re-thread or use a new needle. Will solve the issue 99% of the time). I tried another thread: problem solved and promptly chucked the offending article. What a relief. I just have to keep it in mind that this can happen.

So for reasons of nurturing my sewing mojo as much as I can and not quench the precious and delicate flame, I like to stock up on threads when I see that I am running low.  Which recently happened with light silvery grey, dark grey and a dark blue.

The greys turned out to be easy buys: look at all the G├╝termann greys, find the correct shade number, done.

The dark blue was rather annoying: despite dozens of dark blues in the G├╝termann range, none of them was the perfect match to the Coats yarn I was running out of. Can you believe that I now have four shades of dark blue that are not the exact same?

All pretty close, but no cigar
See: different shade numbers!

I suppose the Coats dark blue is somewhere in between the middle two shades.  It won't matter all that much because it won't be obvious. To keep top-stitching uniform, I'll have to pick and stick with a single shade, preferably one of the new ones, - but it'll be fine for seam stitching.  You won't spot it when you gallop past it!  As they say in quilting circles.

I am also lucky to have quite a lot of bobbins and that I can keep them with their threads by use of something that calls itself 'bobbin mates'.  Yah.  Okay then.  But they are very useful!

Here's a photo:

The short, fatter end gets shoved into the sewing thread spool, and then you have space for two bobbins on the longer end.  For the most usual colours (white, black, grey and whatever else I use a lot) I fill up bobbins: then they're handy to be used without having to fiddle about.  The bobbins for some of the other colours I don't fill to the fullest extent because I want to make sure not to use up more than half the thread, which would be a bit pointless.

All this makes me really happy, and it gives my sewing a much appreciated boost!