I have always needed a creative outlet. I am not unique in this; I am sure many others also have reason to make this same claim. But I find that I need to be doing something tactile, whether it be knitting, painting, sewing, baking, etc., in order to keep me in what resembles a metaphoric balance, especially during some of life’s more trying times. I have always found myself to be in a minor state of trepidation when it comes to change, and when I find myself in states of change – I find myself getting increasingly crafty. Recently, with the change of term coming on, I avoided my blossoming anxiety by learning how to sew. You might remember my foray into project bags, and my Victory Pattern’s Madelaine. Well, I continued on the “skirt tails” of those projects by attempting Grainline Studio’s Alder Shirtdress. I had seen the pattern the last time I went to The Workroom, but hadn’t been completely confident in my “sewing prowess”, so I had chosen the Madeleine pattern I discussed in the last post. But once I was finished the skirt, finding it was easier than I remembered, I convinced myself that I was sewing “invincible” and returned to purchase the needed materials. The salesgirl smartly talked me out of attempting to do view B, the one with the gathered skirt attachment, and suggested that I would learn a lot from view A. I was convinced that I was going to do view B, up until the moment I started tracing out the pattern pieces. It was obvious to even over-confident little me, that the jump from a pattern consisting of 3 pieces, to one that had around 15 pieces, was going to be challenging enough without the additional skirt section. Jen from Grainline Studios has an amazing sew-along for the Alder Shirtdress pattern on her blog, which was invaluable. I didn’t actually read the instructions that were included in my pattern; I just followed along with the blog. I think, had I been left to my own devices, I would have screwed something up. The first thing I did was trace out the pattern. I had to make a full-bust-adjustment, which Jen explains in the sew along, because all of my body parts fall in the size 10 range, except for my bosom, which falls…well, a few sizes larger than that. So instead of settling for a dress that was mostly sizes too big everywhere else, I made the adjustments by tracing out the size 10, cutting my traced pattern to give the needed space in the bust, and then retracing it and narrowing out the body back to the correct size below. Once I drew everything out, I cut out all the pieces and followed the very detailed and well written instructions on the sew-along. I only had a slight issue when sewing the sides together, but that was due to my own indecision as I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to serge them or work french seams. I opted for french seams, after having stitched the sides together, so I had to seam rip them both and rework them. Luckily, I had added a bit of extra room when doing the adjustment to the bust, so despite losing a little bit on the sides for the french seams, it still fits perfectly! I am incredibly happy with how it turned out, but I am really glad I opted for view A, instead of B, because it was quite a lot of work. I have future plans to make it again, but for now, I’ll be putting all my crafty efforts on the knitting of the boyfriend’s sweater, so that it may have the potential of being the “belated Christmas/Birthday present, and on-time Valentine’s present”. Wish me luck with that one.
It seems like I’ve gone all sorts of crafty crazy this past week, and I’ve needed something a little different from my normal ‘knit-all-the-things’ therapy to fill the void. Don’t get me wrong, knitting is still the thing that I crave to be doing every waking moment when my hands aren’t otherwise engaged, but I think in the aftermath of Christmas knitting, and a brief bit of knitting for hire, even I, a self-diagnosed compulsive knitting addict, need a slight change.
It is important that I give myself a brief respite. It would be devastating to my sanity for my knitting to become chore-like, as it is my salvation from many worldly anxieties, tedious subway rides, and infrequent long waits in doctors’ offices. And I haven’t even given up knitting completely on this ‘break’ either; I’ve managed to add a few inches to the boyfriend’s “late and getting later” Christmas present, Jared Flood’s Timberline cardigan, and I’m also carrying around Alexis Winslow’s Arrowhead Mittens when commuting (knitting is magical; it makes public transit almost bearable). But over the past week, I have been rediscovering an old crafty love I had forgotten about, and that love is sewing.
What started off as a knitting related sewing experiment ( I was only attempting to make a cute project bag for the aforementioned Arrowhead Mittens) ended up becoming a full scale garment construction project. I started off by following the Lined Drawstring Bag tutorial from Jeni Baker’s In Colour Order, using three fat quarters to create two adorable project bags for small knitting projects. The pattern is incredibly easy to follow, and the bag is simple to put together.
I resisted the urge to run out to the nearest fabric store and buy up as many fat quarters as I could lay my hands on, and instead decided that I might set the bar a little higher and attempt to make a skirt.
There is this little independent clothing shop near my apartment that sells wonderful vintage inspired clothing, and a few months ago they had this beautiful turquoise and black polka dotted full circle skirt with a shaped waistband. I seriously coveted it, but they only had one remaining and it was a size xs, so while covet it I might, wear it I could not. A few weeks ago, they moved the skirt to the front window of the shop, as if they were trying to taunt me with what I could not have. But this got me thinking, certainly if I could manage to make a bag, I could also make a skirt, right?
So on the weekend I headed down to The Workroom, and had the ladies in the store steer me towards some appropriate materials. There were a few options for patterns, but I ended up selecting Victory Patterns Madeleine for the skirt, and a nice chambray fabric to construct it out of. With all my bits and bobs paid for, I headed home for an afternoon of sewing.
The original Madeleine pattern is designed with exterior pockets, suspenders, and a straight waistband. I opted to forgo the pockets and suspenders, and changed the waistband to the shaped style I had been coveting. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure how to modify the waistband, and my Pinterest searches turned out to be fruitless, so I improvised by folding the waistband pattern blueprint for the size I wanted in half, and then added the shaped peaks to the centre in scrap pattern paper. Instead of cutting only one waist piece, I cut two, added interfacing to both, placed right sides together, and sewed them together along the shaped edge. I then followed the pattern as written for the remainder of the waistband.
I am actually pretty pleased with how it turned out. I am not embarrassed to wear it out in public, which is more than I can say for some of the creations I sewed together in my high school days.