Being Frank…

Accepting my failings

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I made a resewlution…

At the beginning of the year Karen at Did you make that ? invited people to make a “sewlution” of what they wanted to achieve in the year. She’s put all the “sewlutions” in a jar and periodically will check up on how people are getting on with their aim for the year.

I made a sewlution. It appears quite a modest one as I want to sew a skirt which fits where it should and skims over where it doesn’t need to fit…I am looking for the holy grail of skirts, the skirt of perfect fit.  Quite an easy goal eh ? Just sew one skirt the whole year…

The small print though shows that I’m aiming for a little bit more. Actually I am aiming to sew 36 skirts. A new pattern every month and once the first fit of the pattern has been achieved, to follow my Mum’s advice which is that if you’ve taken the trouble to make sure your pattern fits you then make the most of your time and sew the pattern at least twice more.

I figure that, starting as I am from an empty wardrobe (OK 5 skirts) if I manage to make another 36 of which 50% are a reasonable fit then that should at least give me a decent selection of bottoms to go with all the T-shirt tops and cater for both work and home wear.

Only, I haven’t exactly got off to a good start.  Most of January was taken up with trying to get the Tirimisu bodice to fit…and then I took an ego boost break and made a pair of sheep pyjamas just to remind myself I could sew….and then…I came down with the flu.

The PJ’s were called into action towards the end of my enforced bed rest  as I started to run out of nightwear…I still have the seams to finish off, need to secure the elastic and to do the hems.


Flu has stolen 14 days of my life. I’m still not well but I’m capable of reading emails…fortunately it snowed here in Warwickshire overnight so I was able to work from home today rather than dealing with travelling to Reading whilst recuperating from flu.

So here we are, half way through February and I am already 3 skirts down… I’ve spent a large part of the last 14 days…well the bits I was conscious for (I have slept A LOT !) dreaming of tracing off a sweatshirt skirt from the Burda January 2013 issue. You’ll note I’ve only been dreaming of tracing the pattern off, it may be some time before I have the energy to make the skirt as well !

With a bit of luck I may manage 1 skirt by the end of February…course if it turns out to be “the skirt” then I can stop there, I’ll have achieved my goal…won’t have made much of an impact on the wardrobe crisis though !



FO: Wa na na na na na na na

It’s official. Im a klutz. I should be ordered to stay away from all craft making stuff and drummed out of the make and do club.

I had not thought I could get anything else wrong. But no, I had not the sense to steer clear from the sewing machine despite the fact I was obviously suffering from bad sewing karma. Having issued myself a challenge to sew a skirt a month, my heck I was going to meet that challenge, despite having had a very tiring day yesterday with my SiL, my nice and nephew and Spider…and on getting home another traumatic hour treating Spider for nits (Husband has shaved his own hair off as his way of dealing with the problem.

I planned to do a very silly Halloween handkerchief skirt (Sew What Skirts) which I figured I could whip up in 2 hours flat…everything that could go wrong did go wrong

Things I have learnt:  If you are going to cut a hole in the centre of a square of material, make sure you have measured your hips correctly…the positives from this situation is that at least my hips are not actually the 48 inches I thought they were yesterday, oh and Spider has  scored a cape for next year if he wants to dress up…

Fortunately some things have gone right this month, chief amongst them being this christmas present knitted for a friend who doesn’t read Being Frank (but does read Appetite) so I can tell you that the yarn is pure wool and cost £1.50 for 400g from a charity shop

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Pattern: Wa na na na Bat Shawl

Needles: 3.35mm (you need to use a circular as there are a lot of stitches)

Yarn: 4ply Rowan, pure wool, black (claims the label) probably vintage

New: lace knitting from a chart

I am very pleased with this… and would quite like one myself in the new year probably and maybe not even in black. Quite a few people who have knitted this have added an extra row of bats at the top and I would have gone down this route too if I hadn’t run out of wool. I had to cast off in black acrylic as I ran out just after the last pattern row. I don’t think you can tell and besides it gives the cast off a nice stretchy feel.


A husband’s worst nightmare ?

I married Husband because he is honest, sometimes gut wrenchingly so, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, I prefer people to be honest with me. If I ask for someone’s opinion I genuinely want it, I don’t want them to tell me what they think I want to hear.

So you will sympathise with Husband when I tell you that we don’t have a mirror in this house. I mean we do have some mirrors, head and shoulders only, most of which are still waiting to be attached to walls, (see use of mirror below perched on toilet seat in order to take photograph)  but we don’t have a full length mirror. So what do I do if I want to know how something looks ? Yep, I ask Husband.

This is quiet cruel of me. His natural instinct is to tell the truth, but his sense of self preservation makes him wary of saying something that might mean he gets the silent treatment for a week. I try to be gentle on him, I never ask “does my bum look big in this ?” as it’s a given in this house. I am well endowed in the posterior department. I try for clothes that minimize the impact and ask questions like “does this flatter my shape”  or  “is this slimming” or “smaller ?”.

So please, empathise with the poor guy on the occasion his wife asked “how do I look ?” modelling something she had just run up on the sewing machine.

I recently purchase “Sew What ! Skirts” a book that advocates making your own patterns for some basic types of skirts based on your own vital statistics. The first pattern they suggest is an A line skirt with a drawstring waist which “to make it easier we have removed the darts”. Hmmmm, I have recently discovered that someone who is well endowed in the rear (and since childbirth) tummy department really, really needs to include darts in their clothes if they want them to fit.

So, not wanting to risk my specially purchased fabric and a bit nervous about my pattern making skills I made a “muslin” which is a dressmaking term apparently for a sample or test piece ( I also wanted to make sure that this skirt didn’t make me look like a sack tied in the middle with string, which most things do). So I sacrificed an old sheet (24 years old).

After following the instructions to the letter, plus a couple of hours messing around with scrap material as I learnt how the buttonhole feature of my sewing machine worked I had a finished article, which quite frankly looked like a bottomless drawstring bag ! Time to try it on and check it out in the mirror…ah…oh Husband !

Now, what is the poor guy to say about this ?september 2009 047

He stood there for a good minute or so, struggling with words to try and say what he thought but in words that made it sound not quite so bad.

It is truly hideous. It emphasises the bulges nicely. But I have learned an important lessons (other than include darts in everything). Because the material has to go along over the “shelf” of bottom and tummy I need to add an extra inch or so to get the length I need – I hate skirts that finish above the knee !

Husband is inclined to think that it might not be quite so bad if I used a heavy cloth as it might “drag” the hem down a bit. I also think I maybe don’t cut it quite so generously and make it a bit more “fitted”… alternatively a much more fitted pattern is required…oh and possibly a dark material, something in black perhaps…

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Progress…of a sort

We are trying to rationalise the house, to make it “work”, to make it so that you don’t have to spend 45 minutes trying to find something that you found easily the day before…this has mainly entailed taking the “office” to pieces and moving it’s contents into Teenager’s room for sorting – as usual we ran out of time and have ended up with an empty office and a spare room full of stuff – which wouldn’t have been a problem as Teenager doesn’t often sleep here but unfortunately Spider has popped into our bed at 4am in the morning the last 2 nights and wriggled around so much that Husband left to find somewhere he could have a less disturbed nights sleep only to remember that the spare bed (Teenager’s bed) is covered with the contents of the office.

I have been doing my bit. As well as finding a home for several bags of boys clothes and rather a lot of Duplo I finally managed to find a home for the Purple  Chemo Hat and Ripley finally headed north to it’s new home, a friend who possibly needed a bit of cheering up at the end of August but possibly doesn’t anymore …

I’ve almost finished the Bat Shawl (the black 4ply from the charity shop) – but have had to knit back as I got my right and wrong sides mixed up and didn’t realise it until 4 rows later (a row now consists of about 200 stitches so it’s taken time to correct my cock up).  The Tangerine torture is back from its recipient, the sleeve needs another inch but otherwise is fine, the left front  needs another inch, but will need to be frogged back to the beginning as I agreed with the auction winner that perhaps it needed the same needles all the way up rather than the first 4 inches being a finer rib as recommended in the pattern (ick…).

I’ve also made a start on my 3rd skirt, which is a Clothkit, ordered from them at the beginning of August when they were offering 25% everything bought that weekend – the Rob Ryan Long Skirt that I’d ordered however has turned out to be very popular and I had to wait whilst they reprinted – I was wondering whether it was worth making such a summery lightweight skirt in autumn, but the weather this weekend has been better than most of the rest of the summer.

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Cheap as chips…

Most people I know (girls/women anyway) have a selection of “slobbing around the house clothes”, clothes of a loose fit that are as comfortable as an old slipper that they can just shrug on in the evening or on a Sunday morning when they are not going to see anyone. For most of them it seems to be a pair of jogging bottoms or something similar. As I tend to spend most of my working day in trousers my Sunday morning choice is a long black skirt with an elasticated waist and has been since I was 20 and found the first in a series in a lovely and long since gone shop in Reading called Saffron Moon (yes, it was the sort of shop that sells incense and carved wooden objects). The first one was black Indian cotton with black embroidery which eventually washed to a soft as butter feel and on the grey side of black.

One of the remnants I found last saturday just called out to be transformed into a comfort skirt. The shop it came from is called Mo’s Fabric and Dance and since a lot of its clientele are buying material to make costumes for dancing you will perhaps not be surprised to hear that a lot of the material is sprinkled with sequins.

Back when I had my first house and did things like make my own curtains I ordered a lucky dip of haberdashery bits from a firm called Croft Mill (whose catalogues were a thing of joy – sadly they seem to have stopped doing mail order) EDIT at least I thought they had but on searching for a link they seem to have started again but on a slightly smaller scale. Some of the things in the lucky dip were used a long time ago, but some of them I could never see myself using but for some reason I hung on to despite my clearing out last November of all my bits of material and knitting (I am regretting being so organised now !). Anyway when I saw the brown drapey sequined stuff at Mo’s I just knew that it belonged with the length of 2 inch wide elastic that was lurking upstairs…You need to see the picture below to appreciate the true horror of this elastic and understand why I have never used it before !

The material was £3, the cotton 70p from cardiff market and I would estimate the elastic as probably £1 at that. here is the photo of the material – and I promise I won’t be wearing this out !

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I like…

I know this is meant to be a knitting blog but I’m allowed to digress…inspiration has to come from somewhere…

Anyway I was looking for something and as usual found something else, so using the blog to bookmark it so I don’t lose it completley…

This is a cheap skirt if you manage to collect together a load of scrap bits that go together. If I was a bit more awake and savy with the pics function of this blog I would be able to bring the photo into my post – but I’m not, but it is worth checking it out – honest !


NQFO: The minnie mouse skirt

I have, on and off for the past month or so, been making a skirt…or busking a skirt would be a better description as I haven’t followed a pattern just gone on “instinct”…

I popped into a shop in Rugby towards the end of July (I think) to see if they had some wire for wire knitting and found myself drawn towards some bright red (thin) cotton with big white polka dots and I just knew that this material was what I needed to kick me into dragging the sewing machine out from under the bed, threading it and then trying to relearn what I used to know. I also, at that time happened to have been reading Yeah, I made it myself: Ethine Farry

The sensible thing would have been to have searched for a pattern to suit what I could see in my head (Minnie Mouse)  or a pattern that would make up a skirt that would suit the material or even to have used one of the ideas in the book. But no, I decided I could find a way of “building” what I could mentally see, and yes, it has been a process of construction, and demolition everytime I’ve gone wrong, followed by a rebuild in a slightly different way.

Here is a selection of my mistakes

  • I managed to cock up my measurements and cut the material to different sizes
  • It took 3 attempts to put the zipper in, on the 3rd attempt I realised I had a zipper foot for the machine
  • I cut the waistband too small and forgot to overlap for the buttons
  • my gathers are uneven

It is badly made and wonky but I am feeling quietly pleased with myself now that I have almost finished it – on sunday I am off round to my mum’s to stand on her coffee table so that she can pin the hem up for me so that its almost even.

I have shown myself that I can do it and with a bit of practice might actually make something I’d dare to wear out. Mum suggests I buy a pattern and try making the same thing several times over – she is probably right, but first I have to find something I like.

In the meantime, I think, that at the age of 38 I may have fallen in love with textiles – not with fashion. Fashion can go hang. Me I think I will be happy if I can make something that doesn’t make me look like a sack tied up with string and is from a fabric that I love.

Anyway I have the bug. Earlier in the week I went back to the same shop in Rugby for a small bit of material to line a bag and came out £11 poorer having got lost in the remnants basket – there was also an incident 3 weeks earlier in Dunelm when I spent £20 on various bits and pieces. I am slowly building up a drawer of material with vague plans as to what they are destined to be…for most of them I will actually try and find a bona fide pattern to fit what I want to try and reduce the chance of cock up, but for some I don’t think the pattern has been invented yet, unfortunately I ran out of light this evening before I could take a photo of my “stash” …my family know what I am planning for one particular piece of cloth and I think they are afraid.

Been a busy week on the knitting front. I hope to put some stuff up later in the week but Husband and I are sharing a laptop as a Spider related accident meant that a cup of milk got spilt all over Husband’s laptop.