Friday, July 31, 2015

FO: StridesTrousers from the Merchant and Mills Workbook

I decided to make the most of my enforced digital vacation by knuckling down to a Big Sewing Project.
The Strides trousers are described as “probably the most advanced pattern in the book” (Merchant and Mills Workbook).

“Step out in these elegant, timeless gentlemen’s trousers and stand side by side with the big boys.”

The Strides from Merchant and Mills Workbook, in size 10.
The finished measurements for this size are waist:  74cm (29 inches) and hip: 110 cm (43 inches).  Um... yes... I should have done that conversion to inches before I started.
Size 8 would probably fit me better.  I am not sure what I was thinking.
There is ample acreage in that hip ease, and a fabric with plenty of drape is essential.

I used a remnant of Gracie chino cotton from Sherwoods Fabrics:  1.98m for £16.02.  This was sufficient for me, because I was shortening the legs.  
I also had to cut the waistband across the fabric width instead of along the grainline. 
This fabric was perhaps slightly too stiff for the pattern.  In retrospect I would have chosen something softer if I had known how low-slung the crotch was going to be.
I lined the pockets and fly guard with a scrap of leftover cotton from my Vicar’s Wife blouse.

Interfacing for waistband, lots of thread, a zip, one flat button and a hook and bar fastener.  I also used satin bias tape to face my hem.

These took me two full days of sewing, after tracing and cutting out.  You need to make a commitment to this pattern and pace yourself.

I had some issues.  There is an error in the written instructions for the fly, which direct you to cut off the curved section on the right hand side:  it should be the left hand side.  As I struggle to distinguish left from right at the best of times, I found this very frustrating, as I was being extra careful to follow the instructions to the letter.

Because I did as I was told, I ended up having to sew my fly guard on with the lining side to the outside instead of the inside.  I didn’t have enough of my lining fabric left to make another and had already made a really good job of the first one, button hole and everything.

It doesn’t matter... but there is a danger of flashing the lining at the top waistband edge if your belt shifts in wear.
I would also query the cut of the pocket linings.  They do not fit perfectly.  I am not sure if this is intended to add a 3D “bag” to their shape.  There is nothing in the instructions to suggest how to accommodate the misalignment, which is about 1.5cm deep.  In the end I resorted to reducing the top edge seam allowance, matching the bottom edges, and somehow making it work at the side. 
The zip instructions are comprehensive, though I had to mirror all the illustrations for them to make sense with my wrong-sided fly. 

You might expect that I would be disappointed with these trousers, after all my mistakes and troubles with the construction. 
The fit isn’t exactly right either!
From the front they are fabulous. 
The back view is not so hot.
I can pinch out a good inch horizontally across the hip, even after hoisting them up as far as they will go.  This is obviously an adjustment I could make if I was to sew them again.  But it might be enough to sew the smaller size in a drapey fabric.  I have some fine wool in the stash that would be perfect.
However, even in their current state I love their attitude.

They have sass and swagger.
Their slouchy man-sized cut makes them super-comfortable.

The test will be whether they look OK after a day at the office.  All that sitting and standing plays havoc with a saggy bottom!  But if they turn out not to be fit for work, I am more than happy to wear them with pride at the weekend and around the house.  Because, actually they are a damned fine pair of trousers!

Monday, July 27, 2015

What I did on my holidays

Two weeks at home without a Broadband connection found me standing at the top of the hill, in the middle of a barley field, waving my phone in the air in the hope of locating Planet Instagram.  If I stand right here, I can send and receive messages from The Outside World.
And BT cannot tell me when they will be able to lay a new line.
However... I achieved a lot in my time away from the office.

I gutted out my son's childhood bedroom, boxed up the Finnish Metal CDs and Pulsing Maggot posters, removed the desiccated bird from behind the radiator, opened the windows and painted the walls.  It's a rather lovely room now, and when the sun shines I can lie down on the carpet and pretend to read a book, when really I am just enjoying being a cat.

I also made an effort to try out my new cookbook, A Modern Way To Cook.  Last summer I was all about A Modern Way To Eat, and my love for that volume has not diminished.  The latest edition is equally exciting.
The above picture is not taken from the book, it is a photograph of my dinner from the other night - woo hoo!  That is  a Buddha Bowl and it took quite a lot of ingredient-gathering and chopping to create.  However, it sparked a lot more conversation at the table than has been possible lately.  FL came out of his haze of pain to conduct a forensic examination of his bowl and conclude that is was "Actually very interesting."
We have also tried a Sweet Leek and Butternut Hash, which was pronounced "Excellent!" and Squash, Greens and Quinoa Fritters, which were (wait for it) "Absolutely gorgeous!"... to the extent that he ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.  Result!

Of course, I did a lot of sewing too.  I already showed you a snap of my Strides trousers.  I also made three pairs of underpants and two tops.  By pair three, I perfected the fit of Ohhh Lulu's  Grace knicker pattern, using a remnant of Liberty Tana jersey (yes, all-over stretch knit fabric, not woven).  I will definitely make more of these, with matching elastic instead of just the odds and ends from my stash.  I can't show you the prototypes... too embarrassing!

can show you my new tops, though!
This is a Marilla Walker Maya, using 1.25m of Liberty Tana Lawn (from The Village Haberdashery).  Matching the pattern repeats on that fabric was a hoot.  And it was only when I had finished that I realised the central panel was off-centre.
I love it.

And this is a Lisette Portfolio top, a carbon copy of the one I made in 2011 and literally wore to bits.
The dobby dot fabric (from Guthrie and Ghani) is beautiful.  I put the textured embroidery on the inside so that the dots shine through from below.
I know this will be a wardrobe staple.

I have been knitting up a storm as well.  Of course :)
I kept up with the Coop Knits MKAL and am on the final clue for both socks.

And just yesterday I blocked my Tailspin Shawl, by Josh Ryks, Sword of a Knitter / Geoknittrix.
I ran out of yarn and had to omit the final section, which would have added a plain garter stitch border with a self-coloured "kite" insert.
I am a little sad about that, but it is pretty huge as it is.
It is a very unusual shape and I could have done with a larger surface to pin it out on.
I'll show you what it looks like "in wear" once it dries.

I have another week off at the end of August.
It would be lovely if FL and I could get away to the West Coast (of Scotland) and now that I know how to drive his car, that is a possibility if he is well enough.
We'll see.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Taking it in my Strides (still pausing)

Hello there,
Don't get your hopes up.  I am not really back in the world of internet connectivity.
BT has "declared an MBOC" which means "Matters Beyond Our Control"  re my Broadband connection.
The nice young man from Delhi explained that yes, he can book me an engineer, but when an MBOC is in force, there is a 70% chance he will not turn up.  Which is what happened yesterday.
It could take weeks.
So that's me cut off until I get back to work on the 27th.
I have composed a lovely long post about my new trousers, with lots of pictures and words.  But I can't transfer those words and pictures from my laptop to the public library PC (where I am sitting to write this).
So these are the Instagram pics that I managed to release to the world when my mobile provider offered me free use of the web from my phone for 7 days... except of course I can only use it in town.  The farm is in a communications black hole.  Which has its uses, but right now is very frustrating.
I made the Strides trousers from the Merchant and Mills Workbook.
They are are very high waisted and low slung.  The hips are a good 8 inches wider than mine, in a size 10.  I will wear them, but if you could see my back view, you would understand they are not as perfect as they appear from the front.  In drapier fabric?  Yes they would indeed be gorgeous in a fine wool or linen.  I used cotton chino fabric.  I will tell you all about it one day.
For now, the essential information you need to know is that there is a mistake in the instructions.  The fly extension should be cut off from the left side not the right side.  If you cut it off from the left, the fly guard will be the wrong way out, ie lining side up.  And if your belt shifts around, it will show.  Sigh.
In other news, FL was back at the hospital on Tuesday.  His Myeloma is stable and the Consultant is puzzled by his obvious low ebb.  She has ordered scans of his heart and lungs, as he is very breathless.  I can't get him to leave the house on foot, even as far as the garden, and he has given up driving.  So I am chief chauffeur this week and next, while I am on holiday.
My car failed its MoT test, so I am driving FL's car until mine gets repaired next Monday.  This is a major life achievement as I am terrified of driving FL's big car (just a Mondeo but it feels like a bus to me).
So:  no internet, no mobile coverage and no car.  Fabulous.
But look at this! Here I am, so it's not as bad as it felt when it all came crashing down on top of me!
I am in the library for an hour and I can order a new cookbook (Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones) and hopefully print my Coop Knits MKAL sock clue 2.  I hope so - I have still to ask the assistant if printing is allowed :)
And when I get back home I will be sewing and knitting and everything will be fine.
I have no choice but to take it in my stride(s)   :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Pause Continues

Coop Knits Mystery Sock Clue 1

Hi everyone!

I regret to report that my connection to the outside world is about to get worse instead of better.
My home internet line is completely fried and has to be replaced.  This will take at least one more week.

I am on "holiday" for the next two weeks, so will not have access to my work wifi for lunchtime Instagram binges.. or quick blog updates like this!

What I wore to work on Monday - risky!
Rest assured that I plan lots of knitting and sewing during my time off work.

Progress is steady on my Coop Knits Mystery sock (though I won't see Clue 3 when it comes out next week - sob!)

And I am working away on my Tailspin shawl.

Tailspin by Josh Ryks
I intend to sew: a pair of trousers, a skirt, two tops and five pairs of knickers.
So when I return, I should have lots to show you!

I just hope I don't expire from Podcast Deprivation Syndrome.

FL is back at the hospital on Tuesday.  He is not at all well.

Bye for now!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Lightning Strike

Hi there!

Just a fly past post to let you know that my Broadband Hub was struck by lightning the other night (loud bang, flames out of the socket - eek!) and as a result I will not be able to blog until I get it fixed.

I have just taught my phone how to connect to work's wifi so I can show you my new shoes and socks-in-progress on Instagram - exciting!  I am theroobeedoo if want to follow me there.

Hopefully I'll be back soon with a whole heap of sewing and knitting!


Sunday, June 28, 2015

FO: Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen in Denim

Hello again!
Another day, another finished sewing project - hooray for holidays at home!
I swooped upon this skirt pattern the day it was released.
I had been looking out for a midi-length style that didn't scream "frumpy middle-aged woman stuck in a time-warp" and hopefully this is it.
Though I must admit that the thick black tights and brogues might be a little bit Maria Von Trapp with this hemline.
I reckon I need a pair of funky clogs ;)

One of the best things about this pattern is the humongous pocketty goodness.

They are deep enough to hold a bottle or two of wine, or a couple of kittens, if you prefer!

Definitely Roo-pockets...  for those of us with marsupial tendencies :)

The other great thing about this skirt is the shaped waistband.

Unlike the band on the Kelly Skirt, this one delivers a high fitted shape while allowing you to breathe.

And the gathers fall low enough to flatter.
In this fine lightweight denim, I do not feel they give the wearer a balloon at the tummy or hips.
I would hesitate to make it in a heavier fabric though.

And don't forget the exposed zip feature :)
I do enjoy a good set of metal teeth!
The instructions for this one were really clear and helpful.


Pattern:  The Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen.  I bought the paper pattern from Backstitch in the UK, but it is also available as a downloadable pdf.  I made size Small and it came out a perfect fit, straight from the packet - hooray!

Fabric:  2.5 metres of 5oz dress-weight denim from Merchant and Mills.  It is only £6.75 per metre, and also comes in black.  I was initially a bit dubious about the quality of this fabric, as it felt very crisp and dry, even after a pre-wash.  However, it softened up a lot as I worked with it, and it irons really well.  It is definitely a good choice for this pattern, as it takes the gathers and holds them nicely.


I am pretty sure this is going to be a wardrobe staple, taking the place of my much-loved dark denim Kelly Skirt, which feels a bit too short and tight around the middle these days.

I am wearing it here with my Portfolio top and it feels like a good match.  The skirt pockets remind me a lot of the ones in my Portfolio dress, but even bigger - woo hoo!  I wore the dress yesterday - it is still going strong and makes me happy after 4 years.  I hope this skirt will have the same sort of longevity!

Will I make it again?
I have a terrible longing to use my stashed Little Red Riding Hood-print fabric.. and maybe even adapt it into a dress by adding a bodice?
Eek!  Novelty prints strike again!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

FO: A Seer-iously Summery Maya Shirt Dress

Now I have my sewing machine to myself again, you would think I would be stitching up a storm.
But it has been so grey and cold around here that I couldn't quite bring myself to crack out the summer cottons.
I had to give myself a severe talking-to.
A whole week at home, with no obligations on my time?
Get to it, Roo!

OK... but I'm not taking my cardigan off.
Side view.

Back view.
What do you mean you can't see my dress?
OK - take this will you?

I made another Maya Dress.
This one is in a very fine, soft seersucker.
I am wearing my Cali Faye BASICS.tank underneath, as otherwise you would see my underpinnings.

It is definitely more of a shirt than a dress, this time around.

I made fully-functioning buttonholes so I can undo them for extra stride-power.
There are two hip-level pockets for additional slouch-appeal.  The stripes would have matched if I hadn't sewn them on inside out :)

I also added super-thin ties at the back to add a little shape without wearing a belt.
I regret that I sewed them in a couple of inches lower than planned, which works well with a cardigan on top, but makes me look like Shrek from behind when I take it off.
I suppose you need to see that...?

Pattern:  Maya Dress by Marilla Walker in size 2.

Fabric: 1.5 metres of seersucker from Croft Mill  at £7.50 a metre.

Other:  7 vintage buttons from the local charity shop (10 for 70p); home-made white bias binding leftover from my Bantam Top for the ties; thread.


Apart from the tie-back issue, I love it.
And I am not attempting to remove them because they are buried in my beautiful French seams!
To be honest, I don't expect to take my cardigan off very often, so my inner Shrek-ness can remain a secret... between me and the world wide web!

Am I done with the Maya pattern yet?
It doesn't seem so!
I still want to make the plain-fronted top (no buttons) and have my eye on some Liberty print that would be perfect.