Monday, February 29, 2016

Of Handmade and Humility

Friday I was excited to get to the studio and continue work on the '40s dress (mentioned here).  If you follow me on Instagram, you might've seen my post about the challenges of working with viscose.  So I'd already had a taste of what might be required of me with this.  But I was ready to take my time and continue forging ahead.

An aside here - I can sew, but like many of my other skills (knitting, cooking, bitching - hah!), I'm (more or less) one third trained, one third self-taught, and one third persistent.  I also know that sometimes (I find this especially true in knitting) I have to read instructions over and over again to finally translate them into something I understand.  It was with this mindset that I forged ahead.

Smack down 1:  I thought I'd managed the pleats (there are some great detail photos from someone's successful project here), and I was patiently trying to get the #$?%!* bodice to line up with the &*$#! skirt.

No dice.

Here's another aside.  It was kind of cold that day, and I was feeling less than hearty.  Okay, I didn't feel like biking home on a SoBi so the ladyfriend was going to pick me up.  However, it wasn't like I could call her a couple of hours after she'd dropped me off.  She had a grant deadline, and I didn't want to get in the middle of that.

So I decided to dig up an old project that I'd told Karen about - a pattern that I'd cut out who-knows-how-many-years-ago. (This means at least 13 or more years ago.  I'm serious.  I don't even know if I was living in Brooklyn when this all happened.  I could've been living in DC, which I left in '94).  It is in this amazing, almost ephemeral silk chiffon - the kind where you can't tell which side is the right side.  Pretty gorgeous, I have to say.

Now another aside - I'm positive that my mother and I collaborated on this.  I have all the notions and silk thread even to make the dress, but I don't know why we didn't cut out a lining.  I mean, it's silk chiffon; it's totally transparent.  Also, we cut this out either before I realized that sewing pattern sizes don't necessarily match conventional off-the-rack sizes or I was a little smaller.  Both are possible (she says, as she takes a sip of beer).

The problem was that there was no scrap material to test tension, and I knew this is going to be fussy as well (out of the fire and into the frying pan?).  So I experimented with a few darts.

Smack down 2:  Figured four darts were enough to sacrifice (for the time being), and since I was without a stitch ripper (I know!  They're all at the house!), I wasn't going to push it.  (I had decided that I'd make a slip to wear underneath it instead of lining it.)*  Now I'm going to reread this article from Seamwork and buy a walking foot for my sewing machine.

Ironically, I'd actually thought about jumping the sewing queue with the Brooklyn skirt pattern from Seamwork.  I thought a quick project might buoy and encourage me in my sewing, but I hadn't had time to print the pattern before we took off for the studio.

So Friday was really about both accepting my limitations.  I'm actually going to hire a woman I know (almost friend?) to help me with the '40s dress (upping the trained portion of my skill equation)  The chiffon will have its moment, I'm sure.

So when Saturday morning rolled around, I needed to feel like something had actually been finished.  Behold my new socks.

I'd bought this yarn (Julie Asselin) as a birthday present for myself last year.  I loved the colour, and the yarn is really lovely to touch.  Not surprisingly, I'd already knit a sock in it once that I frogged because it was just too loose.

Even this pair had issues.  I intended to use all the yarn and continued the pattern repeat; however, when I tried them on, well, the fact that there'd been no increases for the calf meant that I was rocking a silk/merino/cashmere tourniquet.   So, yes, I had to rip back and content myself with this length (upon the advisement of the ladyfriend, who saved my sanity).  (By the way, the pattern is Riff, which is, despite my complaint about the lack of calf shaping, really nice.)

Earlier in the week I finished the Sophia Loren sweater!  Expect to see it in action when I teach Wednesday.

And finally, the thing I did on Saturday that mitigated the impotence of Friday is that I (am pretty sure I) fixed the dishwasher clog.

Fail better.

*I spoke to my mom about this dress this evening.  Not only did she tell me that we'd thought a slip would work as well, but she also gave me a tip for sewing with chiffon - put a layer of tissue paper between layers when sewing to keep them from slipping.  Nice!


  1. One third trained + one third self-taught + one third persistent = a true Scorpio!
    Congrats on fixing the clog. Did you know that most dishwashers have filters and that they require regular cleaning? Hubby and I learned that the hard (icky) way.

    1. I have to say, more often than not the ratio is 50% persistent, 25% trained, and 25% self-taught. And yes, I've checked out our filter, which I actually think I might modify (ooh, crafty!). I'm also going with a monthly dose of baking soda, white vinegar, and hot water to keep it clear.