Thursday, 27 October 2011

Some sewing

I just realised that I have a photo of a sewing project that I didn't just attempt but completed.  It's not a garment but something very useful nevertheless:

The inside of my handbag.  This is a pretty cheap bag from one of those luggage stores lining the high street.  I even got a little off because I haggled.  I didn't do that very gracefully but I wouldn't have bought it for the full price.  Which turns out to be a really good thing because the coarse, plasticky fabric that connected the inner lining to the outer shell of the bag just literally disintegrated.

It started to rip in one area and after a very short while these two pieces had developed such big holes that I kept throwing stuff in between lining and shell instead of inside the actual compartment.  It looked horrible too.

I felt very lucky when I discovered that the lining was still attached to the zipper when I took the coarse ripped stuff out - otherwise this would have been much more of a mending job than it was.  There was also a strip of plastic attached to the top of the lining all the way round and this had disintegrated as well: it had ripped and shredded, - bits of it had come off and created quite a mess in my bag.  I got to the stage where I didn't even want to touch the bag anymore, it just felt horrible.

The rest of the bag did not yet show any wear or tear (even though some more of that coarse fabric clads an outer compartment or two) and the outer shell is actually nice and sturdy.  So I removed all the ripped bits and pulled that shredded plastic off too.  The inner lining topped by the zip then lifted clean out.

I sewed two straight strips of my pretty flower sprig fabric (a cheap half meter from an Indian fabric shop in Shepherds Bush) onto the lining, just straight through both layers of lining fabric and the zip material.  You can just about see the two stitching lines in the photo if you look closely. I don't think it looks too bad.

While I had the whole thing out I figured I might as well add an improvement: I made and attached an inner compartment!  This is what you can see in the photo: the inner bit in the same flower sprig fabric is just a pocket that I sewed into the lining, near the top.  It could do with a fastening because this pocket hangs quite far down but other than that it's fine.

I hand-stitched the new flower strips to the grey binding strip that runs all round the top - I had cut the coarse fabric off very close to the inner stitching line.  I could push the new flower fabric underneath the grey tape and just whip-stitch it into place, you can't see those stitches in this photo because the grey edge is tilted inwards.  I could have used grey thread if I'd thought about it but the black thread doesn't show too badly.

I am so pleased with this mending job!  It is a task that needed doing, it is an item I use every day, I achieved it by sewing! (I have such a mental block about sewing that this seems almost the best bit about it!) and I completed it to my satisfaction.  It just feels like an all-round good thing.

It makes me very glad every time I set eyes on my bag.  Seeing that pretty flower fabric makes me think quite often: "I made that!"

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Sewing Room by Beyond Fabrics

A few months back (apology for my tardiness) I went along to the opening of the Sewing Room.  This is the second location around the corner from Beyond Fabrics, a wonderful quilting fabric and crafts items shop on Columbia Road.

They offer courses and workshops in this location. There are four places equipped with sewing machines.

The fabric shop Beyond Fabrics on Columbia Road itself is very lovely too. In addition to lovely fabrics for quilting, they have very interesting haberdashery items and a good selection of books too.

I bought a lovely book about making fabric flowers:

click to go through to Amazon

I particularly liked their plain cotton fabrics: there is a very good range of colours - I like using plain cottons with patterned fabrics for my quilting patchwork work.  Using too many highlyl patterned fabrics makes the result look quite busy and crowded.

Here are some items I made using this kind of mix:



And that's already most of the quilted items I made, don't think of this as a small sampling, instead: that's pretty much it.  I started a couple more smaller items and didn't get very far on those.

And here's one more item where I used more patterned fabrics and ended up with a rather buzzy result.  Next time, I would probably sash something like this with a plain fabric to calm it down a lot.  PS: the switched round 'N' in the bottom right corner is not a design feature - it was a long day, I had a deadline looming, and what can I say...

It does give the overall design a bit of balance though: the counter weight to the 'N' in the top left corner? I should just say that it was meant to look like that, cough... (Yup, you're right: I'm trying it on)


Further update on the spits and starts...

Move along now, nothing much to report...

My knitting is still languishing quite a bit.  The only 'update' I have is those projects that I didn't say anything about in my last post.

This is a close-up shot of my Drops Viscose Cotton top in purple.  I love the yarn, it is so smooth and glossy and sumptuous!  A bit splitty so you have to pay attention to where you put the tips of your needle but nice to knit with otherwise: it flows off one needle and onto the other one.

I got stuck knitting this when I got to the armholes.  I should say that I am, again, making up the pattern as I go along.  Not the easiest of ways to be knitting, I'm sure.  I decided to knit the back of this in plain stocking stitch and only the front in this pattern (from one of my stitch dictionaries).  It makes for an interesting difference in texture and also stretchiness!

I managed to make three different kinds of swatches: the ribbing at the hem, the stocking stitch and the pattern.  Because Viscose/Cotton won't block well I just went with how the fabric lies, I didn't even attempt to stretch it.  I reckon that if this were to stretch more over my boobs and less over other areas then the entire thing would look out of whack.  Don't want that to happen.

I think I'm stuck now because I'm not quite sure how to edge the armsholes and the neckline.  I have the feeling that a garter stitch edging wouldn't be the best, I think a bit of ribbing would be better.  It would also stretch a lot more so that ought to make the garment work better?  I should just go for it really.

In further comment to the Trachtentuch to be dyed a rich, warm, dark brown (I don't have a shawl in that colour yet).  I just bought four more lots of 100 gram skeins of undyed BFL yarn at Alexandra Pally - I really ought to get into yarn dyeing or otherwise I'll have all of those kinds of things (yarn and WIPs) lying around for ages.  It would be really good to just dye up some of those skeins 'on spec', - I don't suppose that I need to know -exactly- what I'm going to do with the yarn.  As long as I go for colours that I haven't got already: I reckon that would be good.  A nice rich dark red/wine type of colour, a mid blue?  Ooh, and grey! But I'm not sure how successful I would be at dyeing a grey.  Purple should be a lot easier to achieve, I would be very interested in a purple that's almost only red and another one that almost only blue.  And an exact half/half measure.  Maybe I could try mixing that up in Polymer Clay (Fimo) first, just to get an idea?

The Cascade jumper in blue and grey: I really do not know why I put this one down.  The yarn is really great to knit with, the colours look fantastic with each other and it is now getting colder and colder to the point where I'd like to be able to wear this already.  Plus: I have a pattern for it!  The only sticking point is where I'll switch from blue to grey.  But I just realised: if I don't my first stab attempt, then I could just rip down and try again.  That's miles better than not trying at all.  So, who knows this may get picked up again very soon.

I also have a black jumper that I loved knitting back when it was a current project.  To my shame I have to admit that I took my measurements (in order to achieve the best fit possible) and then proceeded to apply the wrong measurement to the armhole depth.  I must admit that I was pulled up short about there being two inches in differences but I just assumed that the pattern must have been written for a petite figure, and not mine.  I should have thought it through a bit better!

So I need to rip this down quite a bit.  Not a problem because I like knitting and this is easy stocking stitch.  Just what the doctor ordered.  The problem is though that the yarn has incredible memory: I did re-knit a bit and the resulting fabric is glaringly different in texture.  I will have to rip this bit down as well and then wind the ripped yarn over a board, wet it down and see if it goes back to being smooth once it's dry again.  I seem to remember reading about a treatment like that to 'de-kink' yarn.  It's been a while and I didn't exactly expect that I would ever need to know, so I don't remember exactly.  I ought to google that.

This black jumper was the first full size garment that I started when the knitting bug really struck, about two years ago.  I have been knitting for about 30 years but it's only been the last few years that I discovered it as a craft and an obsession!

It is such a shame that this black jumper has been lying around unfinished for all this time.  Not as bad as my black and white (piano key neckline) top, but still.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could finish even just one item out of the whole lot?

Saturday, 8 October 2011

My knitting is stuttering

If my knitting was a car then it would be, well, stuttering.  Not really going anywhere, spits and starts, and definitely no real sense of purpose let alone progress!

I haven't blogged in a little while so I thought I might as well post a screen grab of my current WIPs:

That's without those projects that I've sent into Ravelry hibernation, just so I don't have to look at them every time I load up my project page.

The Levenwick cardigan didn't need sewing up (it's seamless, don't you just love that?) but I need to sew the pocket on as well as the buttons.  In actual fact I did sew four of the seven I need on, but then realised that at least one ended up in totally the wrong place.  Maybe sewing on of buttons isn't the most ideal activity to attempt at knitting group.
I may also have to rip the sleeves down an inch, they got a bit long.  Not too bothered about that right now though.

I may have run out of the icy pink yarn.  I can't for the life of me find another ball in my stash that I am sure I have.  It's probably found itself a terrific hiding place and is spending its time laughing at me!  I'll just leave it until I can think straight again and trust myself to check my stash properly.

That reminds me that I started another 4ply cotton project that I didn't list yet.  It's a mid pink, I know I only have four balls which really did not even feel like it was going to be enough even though the yardage requirement seemed to promise that.  Should listen to your instincts!  I found some spare black 4ply so I should be able to do a two-colour top.  Sleeveless, strappy, not too much back - that sort of thing.

The cream-coloured Trachtentuch is waiting to be dyed.  I would love this to be a rich but darkish brown!  I don't have anything in brown yet but there are some light coloured trousers that would go beautifully with that kind of shade!  There are a few other projects that need dying - I have the feeling that it'll be a very, very long time till I get to it!

Love the colourwork Birdsong socks, one of the few patterns that I just had to get even though you have to pay for it.  But I need free head space to focus on the pattern and I'm just not in the mood right now.

The Steinrose lace is at an awkward stage: there are flower shapes (sort of like Gentian?) that ask for a kind of cabling: you have to twist two stitches in every second row.  The result is very pretty but it is so tiresome to knit!  I hate cables, they're just not my thing.  Maybe in a chunky knit, but not in this fiddly Malabrigo lace.  I should probably send this into hibernation as well.

The Vintage doily is at a great stage right now: lots of very easy pattern.  Just a big zigzag really.  Totes easy to do.  Unfortunately there are a lot of stitches at this stage of the game and I keep wondering what possibly possessed me to knit this single-stranded seeing as it's 1ply!  What on earth...?

My rectangular Niebling shawl is the most accessible project right now: just stocking stitch until I used up a bit more yarn, then I'll pick up stitches around to do a narrow stocking stitch border.  Unfortunately I can't take it out and about with me: there are four circular needles in there (that makes eight needle tips) and I'm too scared about possibly doing someone damage if things went wrong...

So there you go.  Lots of hiccups and not a lot of progress to report on.

But at least I'm getting a blog post out of it.