caretaker of decay

There’s so much I embrace about getting older – where I once longed for a homogeneity with my peers, I now celebrate my difference and the freedom of a life unfettered by the pressure of conforming to conventional norms. If a vast amount of money were to come my way, there’s not much I would change. I’d probably switch to home ownership, to remove my biggest financial outlay, but have no desire to upscale in any way – I’m an advocate of tiny living and drawn to the minimalist aesthetic. Oh and I’d go part-time to afford myself a four day sewing week – now that’s what I call work/life balance.

But that’s about it … otherwise I’d pretty much keep things as they are. I don’t hanker after days gone by – behind my youthful facade hid a multitude of existential angst I have no wish to revisit. Approaching middle age, I’m the best version of me I could be and if that comes with visible signs of age, so be it. But what I’ve been finding increasingly challenging since I turned 40 is the multitude of minor illnesses that keep coming my way. Nothing life threatening or sympathy worthy – just bloody inconvenient and impeding my resolve to become fitter and stronger.

Having lived in a Buddhist community for many years and working with people with life-limiting illness, my thoughts are often framed by the inherent suffering of existence. I’ve always been a glass half full person, with a propensity towards depressive thinking – overthinking, overfeeling, overanalysing. What saves me from being the most draining person you’ve ever met is a dark sense of humour and lack of self-importance. I’m painfully aware of how short life can be, which has propelled me to make the most use of this form – despite feeling like I am the mere caretaker of its decay.

I’ve explored many approaches in my quest to live a more meaningful life and since discovering sewing, cannot wax lyrical enough about its benefits. I’m sure it’s old news to the initiated but the therapeutic effects are bountiful. And what I’ve found most interesting is how my approach to the craft is becoming inextricably linked with my desire to live in harmony with the environment and my ideals. I stumbled across Fashion Revolution thanks to In The Folds and Emily’s thought provoking Instagram feed. It was a timely discovery as I was on the brink of being swallowed into a vortex of compulsive making.

Since then, I’ve adopted a more considered approach, thinking about what I need along with what brings me joy. Which brought me to the conclusion that there was a gaping hole in my burgeoning handmade wardrobe – slouchwear. But addressing this meant conquering my fear of knits which was no mean feat. The vehicle for my tentative first foray is the Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt – a pattern I’ve resisted for some time, as I wasn’t sure how it would marry with my wardrobe staples.

And then I came across these lovely interpretations which convinced me to take the plunge. Inspired by Cut Cut Sew, I opted for a hybrid with a cropped body, slightly shortened hem band, long sleeves and cuffs with thumb holes. I’d first seen the cuffs on Punktyodniesienia’s Instagram feed and managed to fashion them thanks to an excellent tutorial from Johanna Lu over at The Last Stitch. Here’s me failing in an attempt to strike a pose in them Madonna style but having a laugh nevertheless.

I originally cut on a 10 based on my waist measurement but was underwhelmed with the result. After an hour or two with Google, I discovered other bloggers had cut on their bust size – particularly when opting for the shortened version. So I cut on a 4 and graded out slightly to a 6 at the hem but I’m not entirely sure this was necessary. Apart from that, the only adjustments I made were to shorten the arms by an inch to accommodate those glorious cuffs. The material was sourced from my beloved Abakhan fabric bins for less than a tenner. I couldn’t find any suitable ribbing so I went for a contrasting colour of stretchy knit.

Linden is described as a beginner’s pattern and I would concur, even though a lack of confidence and expertise made my journey a tad fraught. I serged the body peices together and then switched to a stretch stitch on my machine to attach the cuffs and bands before finishing with the overlocker. On several occasions the material got swallowed down my machine’s throat plate and I struggled to keep control whilst serging. I’ve since discovered a mine of informative sewing with knits tips, including this cracking post by Serger Pepper and have resolved to put some time aside to get to know my machinery better.

However, for my first attempt with knits I’m more than happy with this very wearable Linden toile. I predict numerous iterations with very little departure in form. Grey is my new colour of choice and I see it teamed with teal and green in the non too distant. Viva la slouchwear.


12 thoughts on “caretaker of decay

  1. Oh I do love your makes! Absolutely gorgeous. I’ve got the Linden Sweatshirt pattern here waiting until I feel brave enough to tackle sewing a knitted fabric again. And I do know what you mean about getting older. I suppose now I’d be considered ‘middle aged’ (45) and I love it. I wouldn’t be in my 20’s or 30’s again for anything. And I too am embracing the attitude of ‘well this is me, this is my style, this is my body, this is how I’m aging, but I’m here, alive, mostly healthy and happy and I feel very lucky. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What lovely words and so nice for me to receive as I’ve been in a bit of a grump the last few days – a nasty gum infection has put paid to all my weekend sewing and running plans! Your kind words about my first Linden are much appreciated. I struggled a bit with it but I reckon I just need to practise a bit more on scraps and incorporate some tips I’ve picked up along the way. I wouldn’t say I’ve conquered my fear of knits yet but I’ve made a little dent! Thank you for taking the time to read my post – it means a lot to me and I’m so glad some of what I said resonated with you. 🙂 xx


  2. its absolutely gorgeous. I love those dreamy tones……. Linda (at remake remodel) recommended using old ribbed teeshirts as a source of inexpensive ribbing which I did once with some success (and now have a cut up tee in the sewing box for ‘next time’. There is such a lovely drape to your sweater. I managed to overcome my ‘fear’ of knits with the alabama chanin book, I did hand sew one teeshirt but have used the machine since! you are so right about the ‘simpler life’, I am always overwhelmed by chat of my colleagues when they say they have to do this have to get that….. no way could I ever keep up….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not overcome my fear yet but I’ve definitely made steps – just need to spend a bit more time playing around before diving in. I always struggle with patience and at a certain point in a project start cutting corners. Good tip about the ribbing – I’ll have to look out for some in the charities or recycle some of mine when they are past their best. I’m so glad you like it – it’s a few notches down on the colourscape for me and all the better for it. I’m appreciating the bold statement clean lines make more and more. As for work conversations – I am totally out of the loop – having no TV means I never have ANY idea what is going on! I’m quite happy to be a little off kilter though – now that I’ve found my tribe 🙂


  3. Someone said to me ,many years ago (it could have been you) ‘It has to make YOU look good not you make it look good’. With this make you have made these conflicting statements both true! That dusky rose has to be my favourite shade of pink,and it lifts the grey and makes it shine. Did you also make the skirt? They look as if they were made to compliment one another. The mileage you can get out of this is endless with other skirt combinations. Your makes are made by you and for you. I’ve always loved grey and because it proves it’s versatility so well as shown with pink as your sweatshirt, I can see it with other trims like spots or tiny floral edgings. Never thought a sweatshirt could look so amazing. I can also appreciate how the sewing community can be inspired by each other. X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. HA! It has to make you look good – love it! It probably was me 🙂 It’s a very simple sweatshirt but I think that’s it’s beauty – the clean lines and the lovely neck. And I think adding a bit of contrasting trim elevates it too. I think grey might be my new discovery – it’s such a lovely warm colour against the skin. And I’m glad you like it with the dusky rose – I’m thinkingto use teal and green next. I didn’t make the skirt – that’s a wee vintage number and I thought they made a good team. Thanks as always for your enthusiasm for my me mades xXx


  5. I agree about sewing being therapeutic. I have often used it in my life as something that gave me a sense of calm and quiet achievement when little else did. If I ever get off the hamster wheel of wage slavery then I would definitely devote more time to creating. Your sweatshirt is really lovely. I do like the design choices you have made and the colours are very complimentary. The cuffs are fabulous. Knits are a bit of an unknown quantity for me as I am a bit scared to sew with them but they do have the advantage of being quick to come together. 🙂 Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the lovely words. I’m very happy with this little slouchy number so I will persevere on my knits journey and carry on collecting tips as I go. Whilst I did change the differential feed on my overlocker to reduce stretching I think I should have tinkered with the tension too. Definitely a pattern I’ll be revisiting. Here’s to the therapeutic powers of sewing 🙂 x


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