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Author: Leonor

Textile artist, indie dyer, conjurer of fluff.
Playing with my new toy: English wool combs

Playing with my new toy: English wool combs

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a pair of English wool combs. They were sold out at the time but the people in the shop were kind enough to allow me to backorder. Now all I had to do was wait a few days and let the spiky goodness arrive at my doorstep!

Finally, they were here.

 

Leonor of Eleanor Shadow holds a pair of English combs and looks chuffed

 

It occurs to me that these would make great Wolverine claws for Halloween, were I in the mood to risk self-injury… Seriously, despite knowing these are pointy, sharp objects, it still surprised me to find out exactly how sharp they were in a slight moment of distraction. Note to self: don’t daydream when handling wool combs.

If you’re not sure what wool combs are for, these brilliant tools are used to process fleeces for spinning. They work by separating, aligning and combing the wool locks, whilst also getting rid of any vegetable matter (VM). The end result is a fluffy and lovely cloud that you’re supposed to carefully diz off the combs, ending up with a longish sort of roving.

 

Texel cross wool locks on English combs, ready for processing

 

Ideally, you’ll place the locks facing the same direction, which in my case was cut side nearest the tines, ends on the outside.
These are lovely locks from a Texel cross lamb’s first shear’s fleece. I washed it myself. They’re so soft and all I want to do is bury my face in them.. (which I definitely have. Don’t judge.)

 

Eleanor Shadow uses English wool combs to process some wool locks

 

Next, you carefully start teasing the tips of the locks apart with the other comb, which will transfer a bit of fibre to said comb at each pass. As you keep doing this, the longer staples of wool will move and the shortest bits will remain on the clamped comb. You’re meant to discard these short bits, but I keep them to make dryer balls.

 

English wool combs processing wool on a table

A hand showing wool waste after using English wool combs

 

You can see above that the fibre left behind retains some VM. I don’t mind it because it’s clean, and won’t be seen once the dryer balls are covered in commercially processed wool top. Waste not, want not.

You will do this transferring of fibre from one comb to the other until you’re happy with how the wool looks. The one below was on the third pass.

 

Side view of wool on English wool combs, after processing

 

There was still a tiny bit of VM but I don’t mind.

Since I wasn’t planning on spinning this wool, I didn’t diz it off the comb, I simply pulled it all off  together very gently, so it all came off at the same time.
After 30 minutes I had a few clouds.

 

A few soft clouds of processed wool on a table

 

I’ll be gathering a lot of this fluff into a bag and, once I have enough, I’ll card it on my drum carder and make batts to sell to spinners and felters. Lamb wool really is like a cloud and I’m loving playing with it.

To end this post in my usual tradition, here’s a completely unrelated photo I took a few days ago that I find amusing. This was on a building I happened to pass by here in Edinburgh.

Plaque on a wall saying On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened

So, what’s your current favourite fibre utensil?

Sewing a pair of trousers

Sewing a pair of trousers

Lately, I’ve been keen on the idea of creating some staple wardrobe pieces to replace some older garments (*cough cough, Pandemic Body is larger*) and maybe have a go at creating a Capsule Wardrobe. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s when you have only a limited number of garments that you can mix and match to create new styles. The operative word here is “limited,” since the idea is to only have clothes you’ll wear and not clutter your wardrobe.

Enter the Arthur Pants by Sew Liberated. They are a wide, lose-fitting sort of trousers, very comfortable. I wanted to have pieces I could wear at home but still look good in outdoors. I’m a fiend for grabbing my pyjama bottoms when at home, but this hinders how quickly I can just nip out to the Post Office!

Whenever I sew a garment, I always like to create a mock-up to see about fit. If you sew, you’ll know pattern sizes don’t always conform to your own body and tweaks might be necessary. A mock-up helps me familiarise with the techniques the pattern requires, and I can see if I like how I look before cutting into the nice fabric.

Bathroom picture glamour

After creating the mock-up, I went on Instagram to ask for opinions. As you can see, not everyone was keen on the style! That’s exactly the type of honesty I was looking for. You see, I wasn’t too sure about the width myself, and having someone else confirm this for me really helped.

I tweaked the mock-up to make it smaller and, happy with the results, saw that I needed to change the sizing on the pattern to fit my needs.

I usually keep the original pattern with all the measurements and simply copy my size to use. This means I’ll be able to sew this for someone else in the future without having to reprint. The pattern piece on the left is the original one, the transparent ones are what I’ll be using. I had to shorten the legs (by folding) because this was meant for 5’7″ people, which is definitely not me – on the wonderful side, the pattern called for at least 3 meters of fabric and I only needed 2, with enough to spare.

Time to cut the fabric. Here you’ll see Marshmallow being “helpful.” It’s definitely true that if you leave a piece of paper in a stadium floor, eventually a cat will sit on it.

I was already familiar with what I needed to do, so the sewing should be smooth sailing. I hoped.

I did make a couple of mistakes, but nothing very serious. At some point, the pieces of fabric did start to look like trousers indeed.

I got pleats, I got a zipper, I got pockets – I’m very proud of myself.

Finally, I needed buttons. I narrowed it down to two styles and my other half made the final decision: the left one.

Of course the buttonhole foot on my machine worked splendidly when I tested it, only to turn demonic with the proper fabric. Luckily nothing got damaged or I’d have had a breakdown. I was almost done…

Ignore the weird background on the left, I tried to remove shoes with an app and it went wonky.

Voilá, a pair of comfortable trousers! I’m so happy with them, I’ve already started another pair in yellow linen.

So there you go, my first ever journey into making trousers, adding a zipper and pockets. Nothing exploded, my mental health is seemingly intact, so I guess all is well.

Finally, just for Ann, I have a photo of some cheese scones I ate a few days ago, because we had a chat about the difference between English and American scones 🙂 Yes, they were delicious.

Have you sewed anything lately? Share what you made in the comments section, I’m always keen to talk shop. Have a great week.

Mistakes, and how to fix them (or not)…

Mistakes, and how to fix them (or not)…

Usually, when we share work with others, we tend to show the things that we’re proud of, or very happy with. Seldom do we talk about what didn’t go well. Today I’m doing just that (again! Remember my waistcoat? It’s still lingering in my Unfinished pile). Get ready for a couple of mistakes and some possible solutions, maybe…

One: The mannequin

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a website that creates a personalised sewing pattern to make a mannequin after your own body measurements. Since the one I had at the time wasn’t true to my figure, I went ahead and splurged on this.

I sewed the thing and followed the instructions. I was very excited! A true-to-form mannequin would mean I could make sure my patterns would fit me perfectly. In theory, at least.
Well… I stuffed it. Literally and figuratively! I had to add stuffing to the thing, and discovered there’s an art to adding fluff and moulding a 3D object in order for it to conform to what you want. Let’s just say my efforts were less than stellar. Attest for yourself!

Not to put a too fine point over the issue, but I’m really not that er, wavy? I think I made a couple of sewing mistakes (note the lower belly, there’s definitely a stitch or two that’s bunched up), but my capital crime was definitely not stuffing the mannequin as instructed, which was to add little bits of fluff at a time. I should know better.
Also, there’s another *ahem* area that definitely didn’t get stuffed as needed, don’t ask me why. That pair would not get a job in a Las Vegas show…

The solution

I can either remove all the stuffing and do it all over again, or I can admit defeat and start another mannequin and also correct the sewing mistakes. Removing the stuffing will be an interesting feat, I have this nightmarish idea that it’ll all bounce back in my face and I’ll drown in fluff.

Which one do you vote for: redoing it or re-stuffing it?

Two: The knitted jumper

Remember the cardigan I knit a while back, and hand dyed afterwards? (Sorry for the lack of link, I couldn’t find it). I had liked the pattern so much, I made a few more, then decided to adapt it to create a jumper (that’s a “sweater” for you American folk, although I promise I don’t intend to do much sweating in it! Then again, I don’t intend to do much jumping either.)

Well… I’m a huge proponent of test swatching everything beforehand to make sure it fit, but I’d knit this before in another format, how much different could this new version be? Turns out, quite a bit.

Even though we know the mannequin didn’t quite come out as expected, the measurements are quite correct. See all that extra “fabric” in the chest area? It’s like that on both sides. Argh.

The solution

I can’t really take this apart and re-knit it. Let me rephrase that: because I don’t want to lose the will to live, I’m not going to take this apart and re-knit it. What I can do, however, is take the excess volume away by either steeking (a technique that involves cutting the yarn and putting it back together, it’s very nerve racking!) or I can go the easier way and, using the sewing machine, simply sew it tighter on both sides.

Steeking would afford me the opportunity to learn a new-to-me technique, but it could go horribly wrong and I’d end up with no jumper and a lot of grief. Sewing it would definitely work, but you’d see a line on the upper sides that might look a bit terrible.
Which would you choose?

Three: the shawl

Finally, my favourite. This shawl was hand knit during a couple of weeks and I love it. This was a commission, so it’ll be heading off to its new home soon.

If you think beading a shawl is hard work, you’re absolutely right! The edging you see here, with those cute little scallops, was also a very time-consuming affair. The end result is glorious, though.

The problem and the solution

The problem I had with it was, I dropped a stitch and didn’t notice until I was all done binding off, washing and blocking it! Facepalm moment.
I immediately put a stitch marker to stop it unravelling and promptly went to work to fix this mistake.

I put the stitch marker over the stitches the dropped one should have connected with so I didn’t lose my place. I then took out my crochet hook and went to work.

After I got the stitches together correctly, I added a tiny string of the same yarn to close it off. I’m sure there are “better” ways to do this out there, but this worked for me. Once I was done, I don’t think you can see where the dropped stitch was. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Here is this beauty in all its glory, ready to become an heirloom in another country very soon.

There you have it, the ups and downs of a maker. I hope you enjoyed going through these with me, and thank you in advance for your suggestions on what to do with the first two.

As ever, here’s a photo of a cute feline to finish the post. Marshmallow was looking all regal and dainty whilst enjoying the sun, but of course once I pointed the camera this happened…

“The paparazzi never leave me alone!”

Enjoy your weekend, and “see” you in my next blog post!

Needle felting a toadstool

Needle felting a toadstool

Is it too late to wish you all a Happy New Year?

I haven’t properly picked up my felting needles in quite some time. I can’t tell you why, but my mind just hasn’t been “in the right place” to make anything particularly unique.

Things changed when I got commissioned to make a mushroom sculpture. It was just simple yet challenging enough for me to see if this would finally open those creative doors. The client wanted something similar to what I’d made before, so all I had to do was look at an old photo and start felting. I’m not copying something that needs to look exactly like something else, but it’s also not mindless felting. Perfect.

This is the old mushroom she saw in my online shop and wanted another of (sorry the resolution isn’t the best):

I really enjoy looking at past work because I’m often surprised at the fact this is mine. Do you get that feeling with things you created a long time ago? I am particularly chuffed when I get that “oh, that’s pretty” feeling before it registers it came from my brain.

Now, for the new sculpture. I gave my client a few fabrics to choose from, but she went for the same as the first one. Not surprising, as she really liked the original item and was very motivated to have a mushroom like it.

I started with wire wrapped in wool to make the stem. The top was created with leftover wool felted into shape, then I sewed the fabric to the top and some tea-stained gauze to the bottom.

The base looks very messy, so I’ll be adding some wool to cover it.

Then comes the fun part: assembly!

I chose some hand dyed mohair locks, plus some natural Wensleydale ones and put it all together. After that, I sewed the beads and stones here and there. Here’s the finished item:

The finished object is just different enough for me not to feel I made a complete copy, and the familiarity helped make the felting process easy enough for my Lockdown Brain to not feel too flustered.

Finally, not related at all, but here’s a photo of a lovely Edinburgh sunset for your enjoyment.

Have a lovely weekend and thanks for reading!

Ending this weird year with some dyeing

Ending this weird year with some dyeing

So, who’s ready for 2020 to go away? I sure am (although I’m not expecting things to be much different in the first half of 2021… thank goodness for crafting!)

On my last post, I wrote about dyeing a cardigan after knitting it. This time I decided to do the same with a triangular shawl.
It’s a simple pattern, one I use mostly when I feel like doing some very mindless knitting and still end up with something useful to wear.

For the past few months, I’ve been craving the colour green. For those who know me and my 95% black-and-gray wardrobe, this is definitely a weird and unusual occurrence, which I’m blaming on Pandemic Brain. I don’t own a single piece of green clothing, so this shawl seemed like a good way to remedy that.

The wool I had bought for this a project so many months (years?) ago was, no surprise there, gray. The lighter areas are almost white and I felt this would make the colour absorption more interesting.

I chose a mixture of two dyes, one green and the other one more teal blue. I find the two colours together gave me the right amount of hue depth.
Pro tip: sometimes dyes look “flat” on the fibre if used alone; for added depth, add around 25% of a lighter hue (so your dye stock is 75/25) and you should see it “pop” a bit more.

I know the photo shows it as more blue than green, but that’s just my camera.

This dye bath wasn’t very acidic, to allow the fibre more time to absorb the pigment. I also added the dye to the pan before the shawl, and made sure to start with cool water that I then heated slowly (this wool wasn’t superwash treated, so I had to be extra careful).

Once the water was warm enough and the dye had enough time to penetrate the fibre, I added more citric acid and let the whole thing simmer for 15 more minutes, until the water was clear.

As usual, I let the water cool down completely before removing the shawl. Can you see how the darker base colour of the fibre allowed for variegation of the project? I really like that.

And here is the somewhat finished shawl (I haven’t woven in the ends yet). Do we like?

Allow me to finish this year’s last blog post with a little furry homage. Here is Squish, my first ever pet, who lived to be 19. He passed away this March after leading a very full and spoiled life, and I’m very happy I had him in my life! Wasn’t he the most handsome boy?

Happy holidays, whatever/if you celebrate, and let’s all hope 2021 is less weird! Wishing you all creativity, love, and joy. See you next year 🙂

More dyeing shenanigans (with a twist)

More dyeing shenanigans (with a twist)

The last time I wrote, I talked about dyeing yarn. As an indie dyer, my job is to create colourful yarn that someone else will turn into something beautiful. That’s pretty much the norm.

Now, what if I turned that regular idea around and dyed the finished item instead? What would happen? Let’s find out!

I had some very lovely 4-ply yarn at hand, plus some mohair lace that was just coarse enough to be uncomfortable if used alone. Paired together they would make the perfect DK weight yarn for a cardigan I wanted to knit.

 

Fast forward 2 or 3 days, and here’s the finished cardigan, minus the buttons.

Let the experiment begin! I wanted a red base. I had to add that to the dye bath first. It looks very much like a murder scene, so let me tone it down by inserting a cute photo of my cat Marshmallow next to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I wanted the red to be soaked up slowly and evenly, I started with cool water and no acid for binding. This will ensure the colour is seeped up gradually and has time to get to the whole garment. I then added the wet cardigan, turned on the heat to medium-low and kept an eye on it.

After 15 minutes, the water was warm and I could see that the red was all over the cardigan. Time to add citric acid gradually. Then turn up the heat, simmer for 10 more minutes, turn it off and wait for the water to clear up and cool completely.

A good sign that you’ve used the right amount of dye and acid is that the water clears up completely once cooled. This is also a great sign of minimal bleeding in future washes, the bane of any dyer.
(If your water isn’t clear, try adding more acid and simmering for another 15 minutes. Let the water cool completely and see if things aren’t better.)

I really liked this colour, but a rule of thumb is, if it looks perfect under water, it’s too light when dry. I also wanted a bit more dimension to the red, so some dark grey was needed.
I didn’t want this new colour to soak up evenly, so I didn’t remove the cardigan from the bath water as I added the new dye, and I kept the same acidic, fast-absorption water from before.

And here she is afterwards in all her glory!

I know the “scruffy look” might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I love it. It looks like a long-worn cardi, something my nan might have passed on to me. The vintage buttons complete the look.

Now, the important question: is the end result the same as dyeing the yarn in the skein? The answer is a resounding No. Depending on how tight you knit, you might end up with a lot of areas that the dye won’t get to because the stitches act as a resist. You can see lighter areas in the photo below, something I fully expected, even though I’m a fairly lose knitter. I actually like this feature because it’s very different from what you normally see.

I had never done anything like this before, and you might be horrified to know that after this, I’ve knit a shawl and now have a second cardigan on the needles, and both will receive the same after-completion dye treatment…

I wore it for the first time yesterday (at the time of writing) and it kept me warm all afternoon indoors.

I hope you enjoyed this experiment. Let me know if you’ve ever tried anything like this before, and what the outcome was! If not, what dyeing shenanigans have you been up to or would like to try?

Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your day.

 

What goes into hand dyed yarn?

What goes into hand dyed yarn?

A few days ago, Ruth had the courtesy of sending me an email reminder about my upcoming blog post (this one). I mentioned I was sparse on ideas, so she suggested I talk about my dyeing process.

This ended up being serendipitous, as yesterday I received a custom order request for a new colourway I launched as part of my new collection. Voilá, I’ve got a blog post!

Now, this isn’t meant as a How To on yarn dyeing, so I shan’t go into too much detail (although, if you’re interested, I’d be happy to write a more in-depth post in the future – let me know in the comments). I will, however, mention a few basic things you definitely need to dye yarn/fibre safely if, like me, you’re using acid dyes:

  • The hardware you use shall be for dyeing only. So don’t use that fancy pot if you’re even thinking of making Sunday roast in it ever again.
  • Always, always wear a respirator mask when handling dyes, especially when in powder form. Dye particles travel far – I’m all for fluorescent green wool but not in one’s lungs.
  • Gloves are a must. You don’t want bright pink fingers for a week (ask me how I know), and you also want to avoid absorbing pigment through your skin.
  • No food or drink near the dyeing station, and you’ll need to clean everything before and after if dyeing in the kitchen.

Ok, so let’s get to the good stuff.

This is the yarn I need to reproduce. It’s called Mossy Moggy (moggies being what we call non-breed specific cats in the UK, do you call them the same in the US?). I needed 3 skeins.

If you want to be able to reproduce colourways in the future, you need good note taking habits. I have a dedicated folder where I keep all my cauldron inventions. If you think you’ll remember how you created something months later, trust me, you won’t.

This is my dye sheet. I leave the space on the upper left corner blank so I can attach a photo of the finished item to jog my memory.

Now on to the dyeing itself. Since I mentioned how important it is to wear a mask, allow me to show you myself in my best Breaking Bad impersonation.

You’ve no idea how hard it was to procure this mask and filters. I needed a new one during the pandemic and everything was sold out. For the life of me, I never thought particulates masks would sell out, but I guess some people want to be extra careful.

There’s plenty of ways to hand dye fibre, and endless techniques. Each will yield different results, and it’s a lot of fun to play around. In this particular case, I’m doing low immersion dyeing: this means I’ll be using just enough water to cover the fibre, on a stovetop.

I’m using a Gastronorm pan, which might look familiar to you if you’ve ever been to a buffet in a restaurant. These are super handy, large enough for up to 6 skeins, sturdy, and fit my electric stove perfectly (over two hobs). There’s several standardised sizes to choose from, this being the largest one.

Mossy Moggy is created by dyeing part of the yarn first, without pre-soaking it first. As it sinks, the first colour gets absorbed gradually and allows for differences in depth. Then I add another colour to the top that has remained undyed, and after it’s all exhausted (meaning all the dye has been taken in by the fibre), it’s time to add sprinkles.

Sprinkling yarn is a favourite activity of mine. Wearing gloves (and donning my respirator), I scatter some dye powder over the yarn here and there. Less is more. The water here is fairly acidic (I use citric acid, you can also use vinegar to get the dye molecules to bind with the fibre) so the sprinkles stay relatively put. I love seeing those little dots of colour.

As I write this, the yarn is cooling down in the pan. I always let the water get cool before I remove the fibre, it allows for more vibrant colours. If I manage to remember to come back to this post before it’s scheduled to publish, I’ll add a photo of the drying skeins.

One interesting thing to remember if you’ve never dyed: colours always look one to two shades deeper whilst wet. If you’re trying to reproduce a certain colour and think it’s spot on in the pot, it’s probably too light.

Once these beauties are done they’ll be heading over to California. I’ll be very excited to see them reach their destination and even more if my client tags me on social media once she starts knitting with them!

Let me know if you have any questions, and if you’d like a more in-depth post on dyeing in the future (and what you’d like to read about the subject). Have a great week.

 

 

More sewing shenanigans (but still no waistcoat)

More sewing shenanigans (but still no waistcoat)

If you’ve been following my waistcoat sewing adventures, you’ll know I was fairly optimistic I’d have a finished (or, more advanced) garment to show you by now.

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Here she stands, in a corner, mocking me…

The thing is… I’ve hit a snag. After finding out the shoulder area needed more work, and realising the pattern I’d bought was more or less useless, I got discouraged. The major mental roadblock was finding out I’ll probably need to remove all the tailor interlining I’d hand sewn in order to fix the shoulder problem; also knowing my pattern-making skills are still in their infancy and therefore can’t be trusted, isn’t helping.

Of course, I’m nothing if not a great procrastinator, and therefore do have something new to show you.

In my free time (ok, when I’m stressed) I managed to follow a commercial pattern and make a new rabbit, as well as her garments.

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She’s got a lovely dress as well as some cute boots, plus a very proper-looking jacket!
The jacket was the most complicated make (I also found a couple of tiny instruction mistakes) but the most fun. She looks cozy, doesn’t she?

I had some leftover material and decided to create a smaller version of the bunny. I’m still undecided on gender. This is important as it will define the wardrobe. What do you think, boy rabbit or girl rabbit?

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Made from scraps of felt. I’ll probably change those weird eyes!

I had my bunny family sitting on a shelf in my studio. They looked alright there, but… incomplete.

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My studio library isn’t fibre-centric at all…

Suddenly I remembered I had a pattern for an armchair, part of the rabbit collection. It looked both complicated enough to be entertaining and simple enough to be finished in a short amount of time. I had to make two.

Well… the pattern had a couple of mistakes (this is starting to become a thing with me, isn’t it?) so I did have to take some time away from it after realising I’d cut the fabric too short in some places. After some consideration, a solution presented itself and I managed to finish one armchair.

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I did it in patchwork fashion for a trendy look. I’d never done this type of fabric assembly before, so if there’s anyone reading who understands how it works, feel free to point out any mistakes I might have made.

All in all, I think it came out quite decent, and my rabbit looks comfy and elegant sitting on it.

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Now… there’s a tiny bit of felting to be had in this story. See the chair’s rounded arms? The pattern tells me to use some wool batting, roll it up and hand sew in place. I had a better idea: I receive a weekly food box that has an insulating padding made of recycled bottles, and I thought, “this would be a great way to reuse it!” Will it felt, though? I brought out my needles, had a go, and success!

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Needle felted plastic, who would’ve guessed?

This will be going in the other armchair that I haven’t finished yet. Wish me luck, I hope this second one comes out looking similar, or I’ll have to create a story in my head as to why one rabbit is more deserving of comfort than the other…

So… maybe next post I’ll have a waistcoat? Don’t hold your breath, but fingers crossed.

What have you been up to lately? Any miniature furniture sewing? Tell me all in the comments section.

 

Do I have a finished vest? (Spoiler: I don’t)

Do I have a finished vest? (Spoiler: I don’t)

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well, or at least managing not to randomly yell at walls.

If you remember, the last time I wrote I was working on a Victorian-style waistcoat mockup, and I was determined to have the real thing ready soon. Famous last words!

Once lockdown happened, my energy levels plummeted, lots of food was eaten with no exercise (in which my waistline might have increased ever so slightly, making the waistcoat a bit more er, snug) and my creative mojo went out the window.

So… this is where I am now:

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After two mockups, I thought I was ready for the real deal. However… see the puckering on the armpit area? It’s driving me mental and I don’t know how to sort it. I’ve tried pinning and tucking but so far, nothing has helped. Argh. Suggestions?

The good bit is, I definitely did practice my tailoring techniques. Using horse hair canvas and a special type of tailor stitch, I partially lined the inside of the waistcoat to make it sturdier. This also helps with shaping – see how the lapel is bending in the right direction? That’s the horse hair canvas and the stitching doing its magic. Behold, my tailoring efforts below.

 

Another issue I’m having is the fabric itself: since the wool is on the thick side, each bit I add (such as the inner lapel) adds bulk, for which the pattern doesn’t account. That, plus my recent indulgence in delicious comestibles, and I’m in trouble… Next Winter should be interesting.

Another thing I’ve done so far is to topstitch the lapel by hand, so the fabric doesn’t pucker when the waistcoat is buttoned up. I think you can tell the slight difference between the topstitched right half and the left, yet to be worked on:

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And that’s pretty much me done for the moment. For those who might complain that I’m not showing any felting, look! I’ve needle felted a couple of little balls to see if they look good with a bead, for knitting stitch markers. What do you think? I’m not in love so far.

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Finally… I need a distraction from all my recent mask making, so I’ve decided to work on a miniature felt jacket for a lady rabbit I sewed a while ago. Naturally, Quality Control Kitty was there to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes.

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Hopefully in my next post I’ll have a finished waistcoat and a mini jacket to show you…

Oh, and one last thing: I’ve been having trouble commenting on everyone else’s posts, which makes me very sad. Tech is annoying. Please know I’ve been reading them. I really, really hope the tech issue doesn’t impede my being able to reply to your comments, fingers crossed!

Have your lovely selves a great day 🙂

Cabin fever and mock-ups

Cabin fever and mock-ups

Hello. Let me start by hoping you and your loved ones are all of sound health.

In light of recent events, last week my husband and I decided to self-isolate. Not too hard a task for two humans whose favourite activity is staying in their respective studios and create, but once it became a Rule I Must Follow in my brain, I knew I needed a project to stay busy and not rebel.

Before I tell you what that project is, allow me to share a new acquisition – I got a serger!

Brother

Meet Bert. Bert came to me pre-loved on eBay, from a lady that didn’t have much time to craft anymore. Judging by the state of his insides (lint everywhere!), you could tell he was indeed much loved.
I haven’t played around with Bert yet but I’m sure he’ll make a great companion to Marge, my sewing machine.

Now, to the project.
I’ve been down a historical costuming rabbit hole for the past few weeks (because, reasons) and decided to make myself a late Victorian waistcoat. This all may have gotten worse after I bought a magnificent pair of trousers with a very 1910s style, and felt my ensemble wouldn’t be complete without a vest, and later a jacket.

Who knew the internet had sewing websites just for this type of historical thing?

pattern

You’ll see on top right corner that the pattern I bought allows me to choose from 4 different styles. I went for the one shown in yellow. Don’t make me confess how many tailoring videos I’ve since watched on YouTube to learn how to create a proper lapel…

Fearing things might start going slightly dystopian, before I self-isolated I managed to run to one of my local fabric shops and buy the appropriate materials for this.

fabric

I got this beautiful 100% wool tweed for the exterior and a beautiful silky paisley for the lining. The latter is polyester, something I’m not very keen on, so I vowed to find something made of natural fabric for next time.
Both materials have been pre-washed but not yet pressed.

Now, before I get to play with the pretty stuff, I need a mock-up. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, this is when you test the shape and size of your pattern by first sewing with inexpensive fabric – this is often called a muslin.

Mock-ups save you the heartbreak of finding out the pattern doesn’t fit you somewhere after you’ve cut into the expensive fabric. They are also a great opportunity for you to get to know the construction steps of your project, and train the techniques first. My waistcoat pattern reportedly comes from an original 1890s pattern so you can be sure I’m testing it first!

Good thing I did, too…

mockup

My mannequin isn’t completely true to my size but I can already tell there are some adjustments I’ll need to make to the bust line, plus there are a couple of instructions I’m not sure I’ll be following to a T (I am a rebel, after all).
I also managed to find out the pattern has some mistakes, such as telling me to use 4 pieces of something they only tell me to cut 2 of.

The keen-eyed among you might notice I’ve pinned the pieces together on the outside. This is so I can make easy adjustments and transfer them to my final pattern once sewn.

Unfortunately this is where my experiment is at the moment, so I don’t have any more to share with you. However, if you’re intrigued by this piece of clothing – have I mentioned this will have some real historic-style boning for structure? – I’ll happily share my progress in my next post.

Until then, stay safe and I hope you have plenty to keep you pleasantly occupied.

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