SAL 65: No stitch, no time…

Not quite how the proverb goes, but very expressive of the situation around here.

Not a progress shot…

I’d planned to get a bit of stitching done over the past few days, but virtually everything I touched this week took about three times longer than expected, and some-thing had to give. Sadly, it was my embroidery 😦

Having said that, everyone else in the Stitch Along will have some-thing lovely to show you, so nip over there and take a look.  Here are the links:

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSueConstanze,
DebbieroseChristina, KathyMargaretCindyHelenSteph,
LindaMary Margaret, HeidiJackieSunnyHayley, Tony,
Megan, Timothy and a warm welcome back for Catherine

I’ll be back on 29th July, hopefully with some actual progress to show!


Dolphins ahoy!

Yes, OK, that was a bit hearty and nautical, but I couldn’t resist.

You’ll recall the lovely dolphin fabric my sister sent me, along with the two florals. I said I was going to make a summer dressing gown from it, and I’ve been as good as my word. Here it is, hanging flat on the design wall, where you can see the detail a bit better. In case you’re interested in how I did it, here are words and pictures. It’s quite a long post, sorry about that, but if you don’t use a pattern but wing it, you need to do a bit of explaining. Fortunately, it was a fairly easy make.

I did finally dig out the overlocker, which has been sitting in a box since we moved house {mumble mumble} years ago. After an initial clunky-grindy start, I have it cleaned, oiled, threaded, tension balanced and running again. So I almost completely constructed the robe using it. Only the hanging- and belt-loops, the pockets, hem and bindings were done on the sewing machine. I’d forgotten how fast overlockers/sergers are, and that you really, really don’t want to make any mistakes if you have the knives fitted. I didn’t, luckily, as I had only just enough fabric.

The back was one rectangle, cut on the fold. The length was how long I wanted it, the width was half the bust measurement plus a couple of inches. The two fronts were the same length, but I didn’t have enough width of fabric to make them the full width I wanted, so I had to piece together a front edge strip from the dolphin and blue batik.

I did have a long narrow strip left at the bottom from the full fabric width which was just enough to make a long sash. I also had to use the blue batik for the sleeves, and having decided to do that, I decided to insert a band of aqua batik at the top of the sleeve, edge the sleeves with a dolphin fabric turned-up cuff, and make pockets for the front of the robe in the same blue batik with matching aqua binding on the top edge.

I measured 2 inches down from the top edge of the back, and 1/4 of my neck circumference along the shoulder to shape the neck. A dinner plate was a handy size for giving a smooth curve. For the fronts, I added the pieced sections to give extra width to the fronts. It’s important to have enough width, or the robe won’t wrap around enough for full coverage. You also need to make sure the crossover comes high enough; I don’t think the world is ready for the sight of me with a plunging neckline! For this, it was a question of pinning on the extra, putting the garment on and seeing where I wanted it to cross, then cutting the diagonal accordingly.

For the sleeves, I just ran the measuring tape down my arm to where I wanted the sleeve to stop. From this, I subtracted 2 inches for the aqua strip, and another 2 inches for the cuff. I measured how deep I wanted the armhole from the top of my shoulder, doubled this, and cut a rectangle the right size for each sleeve in the dark blue batik. To these, I stitched the aqua band and the cuff whilst still flat.

Then I sewed and pressed the shoulder seams. Laying the whole thing out flat, right side up, I marked the centre of the sleeve rectangles, and aligned these with the shoulder seams. I pinned the sleeve edge to the garment edge, right sides together, and sewed and pressed it flat, repeating this on the other side.

After that, I made the belt and hanging loops, using leftover aqua batik strip. I folded this in half lengthways and pressed. Opening it out, I pressed first one, then the other long edge towards the middle crease, and then pressed the whole thing flat. I top-stitched two lines, one next to the open edge and one next to the fold, and cut from this two belt loops and a hanging loop.

I then turned the garment right sides together, pinned the belt loops into the side seams, and stitched and pressed all the way from the cuffs down to the hem on both sides.

For the pockets, I cut two long rectangles in the blue batik, folded them in half across the short axis, right sides together, and stitched up the sides, leaving the top open. I turned this through, pushed out the corners and pressed it flat. I then bound the top edges with the last of the aqua strip, and top-stitched the pockets in place on the front, after testing to see where I wanted them.

I then bound the raw edge of the opening, using the pink batik strips, using the same process as for binding a quilt.

I made a sash from the long strip left over from cutting the back and fronts. You can either sew it right sides together, turn and press, or you can turn under the edges, top-stitch and press. I loathe turning long thin strips, so I went with the latter method. A bit lazy, but hey, whose robe is this anyway?

Finally, I turned up and hemmed the bottom edge. Done!

It took me a day to do it, interspersed with other jobs. Mostly it was working out how to make the best use of the fabric I had, without any waste. For a large garment like this, there wasn’t enough to do everything in the same fabric, but I like the mixture. It’s also not a sophisticated garment, requiring careful fitting, but it is comfortable and soft, so fits the dressing gown bill perfectly.

And there we have it, a nice lightweight summer dressing gown, in all my favourite colours 🙂

A pretty pick-me-up

I’m in need of a bit of loveliness right now.

Having been due to attend court for jury service this week, I found myself starting a heavy cold last Sunday night. Luckily, I wasn’t going to be needed the next day, or the day after that. By Monday afternoon, it was clear that this was going to be more than your average cold. Reluctant to spray these potent germs all over the court, I went to see my doctor, who took one brief listen to the strange barking noises emerging from my mouth and diagnosed a viral chest infection. One medical certificate later, and jury service is no longer anything to worry about. The rest of it is not so wonderful, of course…. as it’s a virus, I can only ease the symptoms with the aid of my trusty box of cold and flu remedies.

Today, our lovely postlady dropped a box on the back doorstep. Thinking it was some car or mower part the husband had ordered, I brought it in, and it wasn’t till I saw the customs declaration and the fact that it was coming from the Netherlands and addressed to me that I realised it was that most welcome of parcels – fabric! The darling, kind sister for whom I made the Bonnard quilt had promised that she’d find me some fabric as a thank you for making her the quilt. And now, here it was; not one but three pieces:

The dolphin fabric is an easy one. I have some beautiful batik in exactly the same colours, and I plan to make a thin summer kimono-style dressing gown from both the fabrics, with a thin piping of bright pink.

The other two are pretty much demanding to be made into summer tops, and I’m already rubbing my hands in glee at the thought of what I can do with the scraps! For now, they’re going into my dress-fabrics box, to be fetched out and petted regularly. I don’t have any idea who they’re made by, as none of the selvedges has any information, but they are 100% cotton, and the quality of both the fabric and the printing is excellent.

I feel much better already!


SAL 64: lots of white

This time, I’ve scarcely changed the colour on my needle.

There were several areas needing some peaceful infilling with white, so I just got on with those. Bliss not to need too much counting, especially as time seemed to whizz past as the weekend approached. Once I’d got the white done, though, I couldn’t resist getting into the greens as well, so there’s a bit more happening on the left as well.

Here’s the usual before:

And here’s the after:

Much better this time – I actually had to unroll the canvas a bit to get at that top part. And I’m now very, very close to having a quarter of the piece done, not counting filling in the background (which I don’t!). The needle shows where the top of the quarter is, and that bit of green at lower left shows where the bottom is.

Do click on the links below and go and look at what everyone else is working on. If there’s no post up yet, try again later, as we’re a scattered bunch, all in different time zones.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLinda, Mary Margaret, Heidi,
Jackie, Sunny, HayleyTony, Megan and Timothy

The next SAL will be on 8th July. See you then.

SAL 63: a stitch or two more

Not terribly impressive this time, I fear.

I’ve had other activities gobbling up my time, none of which are interesting enough to blog about except what I’ve already shown. So the stitching, being without urgency or deadline, has fallen by the wayside. Sorry about that…

Here’s last time:

And here’s now:

Can you actually tell where I’ve done some work? I know… it’s hard, isn’t it?

Do go and look at everyone else. I’m sure they’ve managed more than I have! If there’s no post up yet, try again later, as we’re a scattered bunch, all in different time zones.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLinda, Mary Margaret, Heidi,
Jackie, Sunny, HayleyTony, Megan and Timothy

The next SAL will be on 17th June. See you then.

SAL 62: froggit, froggit

In, and then out again…

I’ve done more stitching than it appears this time. I got a block of pale green done top leftish, but there was a problem. I’m not using exactly the same colours as the design as I can’t get them here. My colour substitutions just looked wrong in this particular area, so I pulled a load of stitches out and replaced them with an alternative green which I feel looks better. It’s a slight deviation from the design, but I’m happier with it.

Here’s where I’d got to last time:

And here’s where I am now.

Do go and have a look at what the others in the group are working on. We’re all over the world and in different time zones, so if you don’t see a SAL post yet, pop back later.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLinda, Mary Margaret, Heidi,
Jackie, Sunny, HayleyTony, Megan and Timothy

The next SAL is due on 27 May, so I’ll see you then.

A little less plastic

I’ve been trying to reduce how much plastic I use and then have to throw away.

I do recycle both hard and soft plastics, I don’t use plastic carrier bags in supermarkets, and now, I won’t need to use those flimsy single-use produce bags any more, hurray! I’ve put together a set of netting produce bags in different sizes, with a drawstring top. Washable, light and easy to see through. They can live in my heavy insulated fabric shopping bags. They’ll be getting a test run shortly, and if all is well, I’ll make a batch more.

I had an old roll of mosquito netting which was perfect for this, being stretchy and non-fraying, and there’s still plenty left for more bags, or replacements when these get a bit tired or start falling apart. The drawstrings are shoe laces, and I used a sewing machine stitch which combines a straight line and a zigzag to finish the edges a little – they don’t need it, but I like things tidy 🙂

I got the idea from Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial. She’s a bit of a green superstar and recycling warrior among her many other talents, and her blog is well worth following if you don’t already do so.

Hmm. I think I need some different shapes. Rhubarb, cucumbers, kale, stuff like that…