growing pains

Here’s the visuals from my latest make for Minerva – the Merchant and Mills Trapeze Dress in Michael Millar poplin. For the backstory, hop over to their website and this post.


pocket love

What is it about pockets?

And I know I’m not alone in this – every time some kick ass receptacles appear on Instagram, my people emerge. As I was finishing off my second Marcy Tilton Vogue 8813, it occurred to me, that my pocket love might stem from a subconscious desire to climb into their gargantuan folds and hide from the world.

My first attempt at this pattern was documented in a guest blog for Minerva Crafts and I’ve not much to add, except to say that I still hate gathering and will be avoiding any garment that involves this technique for the foreseeable. I’m particularly happy with the finish around the v-neck, as I used a strip of lightweight fusible interfacing to prevent any stretch from mishandling. If I were to make a third, I’d interface the areas which call for reinforcement too, as the notches weakened the fabric and got me reaching for some fray check.

It’s been a week where I haven’t been able to shy away from the fragility of existence and the reality that bad things happen to good people. I’ve been on the receiving end of glowing praise and harsh criticism, observing their opposing effects on my mental state. And I’ve sought comfort in wisdoms gleaned from Buddhist teachings – that everything is dependant related and lacks its own permanent, fixed identify. I’ve sat with uncomfortable feelings and when they’ve got too big to countenance, I’ve grabbed my trainers, took to the streets and worn them down.

At 43 I’m ripe for a mid life crises but thankfully I’m ahead of my time and got that emotional unravelling out of the way in my 20’s and 30’s. There’s been a radical shift in how I relate to myself and others but it’s one I embrace. However, change does not happen in a vacuum and comes with internal and external resistance. I’m concerned some of my relationships won’t weather the metamorphosis and I falter, triggered by old wounds and the fear of rejection fuelled self-annihilation.

Looking back, I was forever lost and sought solid ground through my interactions with others. In adulthood I’m appreciating a seismic shift in my functioning. Through anchoring myself inwards, I’ve learnt I can do hard things. And on the days where I can’t, I’ll retreat awhile and seek solace in the comfort afforded by these cocoon-like pockets.

slouchwear – his and hers

A while back I made a bold announcement – slouchwear the name and comfort my game. I soon realised that the swift progress I hoped for was hampered by a severe skill deficit and until I faced my fear of knits, I would remain firmly in the structured stable.

I’m happy to say there has been some movement and I’m making tentative steps towards vanquishing my fear. A full range of slouchwear has yet to be realised but I’ve fashioned a his and hers which I’m happy to be seen in daylight at a distance:

‘His’ is my second attempt at the Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt.  I cut on a straight 12 and the only modification was to add thumbhole cuffs – again shamelessly copied from The Last Stitch. My first attempt came together relatively easily but boy did I struggle with the neckline on this one. Following the pattern’s neckband measurements produced gathers befitting of a clown. So I developed a close relationship with my seam ripper and detached and reattached it numerous times before I got a length which achieved a traction I could live with. I’m guessing different fabric compositions affect the length of your neckband? I’d love to hear from any of you who’ve learnt this the hard way?

‘Hers’ is my first foray into the world of Ottobre Design and I don’t mind saying I think I picked the cream of the crop with this New Boheme Jersey Tunic (Woman Autumn/Winter 5/2014). Tracing these patterns off is not a task for the faint hearted and I was eased out of my inertia by entering into a #patternpledge with Grace over at @beyond_measure_uk. We resolved to bring an Ottobre pattern to life by the end of March and encourage each other along the way.

It’s such a good idea to get involved with little projects like this and without the knowledge that we were in it together, I would have given up at the first hurdle. I’m not going to lie – tracing of this magnitude is meltdown inducing. But, it was sooo worth the effort – this is a pattern I know I’ll be making again and again.

I cut on a straight size 40 but added an extra 1cm seam allowance at the sides to accommodate my hips. Turns out this pattern has ample design ease for my pear shaped figure but I’m glad I erred on the side of caution as I did utilise the extra allowance from underarm to cuff. If you stay true to the pattern you may find the sleeves a little snug and as I have a propensity for layers, I’m glad I had that room to play with.

After tracing and cutting, construction is pretty straightforward and the only sticking point for me was the neck pleats. The pattern had me in a quandary and eventually I decided that the central markings were for an inverted box pleat. I used a long straight stitch on either side to secure it in place but when I googled other versions, I couldn’t see any top stitching. It’s like they’d all discovered the formula for creating this pleat which eluded me. If you know the secret, please please have pity on me – I need entry into the Magic Circle before my next iteration.

For the seams I dug out my walking foot and used a long straight stitch before finishing them on my serger – I’d need to undergo a serious course of counselling before overlocking from the get go.  Attaching some Steam to Seam Lite to the hemline and sleeves before stitching with a narrow zig zag (0.5 width, 3 length) worked a treat for me but I’d welcome other suggestions on fusible hemming tape for knits?

Like the Linden, I came unstuck again at the neckline. When adding the facing I stretched it disproportionately and the back lacks the tension I achieved at the front. As for the top stitching … I almost don’t want to draw your attention to it. I reduced the length of the narrow zig zag to a 2. 5 and now I’m wondering if a 3 would have made for a more subtle finish or whether to opt for a neckband next time.

Regardless of the flaws, I’ve faced my fears and for that I’m rightfully proud. This is a very wearable toile in an unremarkable fabric and hue which I’m itching to revisit in different textures, colours and patterns.

Slouchwear – it’s ON.