At the end of September we moved from Germany back to the UK, specifically to Edinburgh. It’s been a crazy time since late summer, but things are finally settling down.
I’ve taken surprisingly few photos of this amazing city, but here’s a selection of what I have taken. The slightly blurry ones are phone pics taken on my walkabouts 🙂 .
This project was a whole load of firsts for me! First time sewing with slippy, sheer fabric. First time lining a garment. First time working on the bias. First time matching prints. Phew! It was a steepish learning curve but well worth it. Réglisse by Deer & Doe is a breeze to sew and even easier to wear. It took me a bit of time only because of my ‘ambitious’ (for me) choice of fabric.
I bought the fabric (once again) last Summer in the local department store sale. Despite it’s synthetic (I think) content, I was just completely drawn to it. Of course then it languished in my fabric drawer for nearly a year, waiting for me to build up the courage to attempt to sew it and / or find a suitable pattern. I don’t recall what the label on the bolt said, but a flame test confirmed it’s plasticy content! It’s a very light, sheer, loose woven polyester chiffon with a crinkle.
I had my eye on Réglisse since its release, but was nervous about the full skirt. I held back on buying the pattern until a number of other, braver souls had tried it out. Looking through all the finished dresses in the Deer & Doe Flickr group, especially after the Réglisse sew-along, I knew my fears were unjustified. Réglisse looks amazing on all body shapes and especially in light, drapey fabrics. I think it was Eléonore’s wedding dress version that finally convinced me! Realising that the polyester chiffon would be perfect I hesitated no more!
But first, a muslin!
The muslin is made up in a unbleached cotton (Ikea’s Bomull – top tip for muslin fabric!). Heavier than the lined chiffon, but sufficient to test general fit. Having previously made Sureau in size 38, and realising now that it was a smidge too small, I checked the pattern piece measurements for size 40. Given that it’s a loose fitting dress, without a zip, I decided that size 40 would be perfect. I sewed up the muslin super quick and then nervously tried it on. Any sewer will know that feeling – you’ve spent hours and possibly many monies on sewing a garment, only to try it on a realise that it just looks awful on you! No such sinking feelings here! It looked great and the skirt wasn’t too puffy on my hips! I did decide however, to remove the cap sleeves and the tie from the collar, because I thought they looked a little too girly on me, especially since the fabric was already pretty feminine and floaty. 🙂
Now to the scary part – cutting out slippy fabric. Turned out to be a breeze with my rotary cutter and many cans of tinned beans as weights! What was going to be tricky though, was matching the print. At first I thought that the print was small enough to avoid doing that, but then I noticed how the flowers were in stripes, so given the central seams, I realised i was necessary. On the first attempt I matched the pattern beautifully to give a continuous pattern, only to realised what I wanted was chevrons… The crinkle in the fabric caused some problems with stretching and when two pieces were matched up pattern wise, there weren’t actually the same size. Argh! I got there in the end, and although it’s not perfect, I’m pleased with the results.
Next up – choice of lining. There was no way I was going to line such a lovely dress with icky acetate lining, so my original plan was to line it with a 100% viscose or cupro lining fabric. In the end, during this summer’s local department store fabric sale binge shop, I found some lovely, light cotton fabric in an off white. It was labelled ‘Gewebe’ which is somewhat ambiguous – my online dictionary translates it as anything from simply ‘woven’ or ‘fabric’ to more specifically ‘gauze’ or ‘mesh’. It’s certainly a ‘blouse’ fabric, and probably similar to lawn. Either way, it was light enough to use as a lining and the right colour!
I decided, given the sheerness of the fabric, combined with the darts and the centre seams, to ‘interline’ the bodice. In other words, I treated the layered fabric and lining as one piece of fabric and seamed them all together. To do this, I basted each pattern piece of the bodice and waist band in the chiffon to it’s corresponding piece in lining. I didn’t do this for the skirt, in order to keep the two skirts separate for free swishing and so that they would hang better. I then sewed everything together with french seams.
The armholes and hem are finished with homemade bias binding from the lining fabric. I removed the tie ends from the collar and sewed the ends into the centre seam. If I did this again I would cut the collar on the fold at this front point and have the seam at the back, so that the front point was all one piece and not attached to the bodice. I did scoop some fabric from the armholes and shoulder yokes to make them narrower, but I think I needed to take more from the yokes. The armholes are a bit gapey, but that’s not obvious in the pics thanks to my strategically positioned arms. 😉 You’ll notice that the waistband isn’t very gathered in my version. I tried it out with having the elastic shorter, but whilst the pulled in waist looked better, it made the skirt sit higher on my hips puff out a bit too much for my taste.
All in all, an awesome pattern. The loose fit makes it summery and feminine and the zip-free, chuck it over your head construction makes it so comfy and easy to wear! I’m currently searching for the perfect fabric for an autumn / winter version.
On my recent trip home to Ireland, I paid a visit to the Avoca Handweavers Mill in Avoca, Co. Wicklow. I have vague memories of visiting it as a child and was keen to visit again.
These days, the Avoca name is better known as a lifestyle brand, with a very popular chain of shops and restaurants. It’s origins however are as a weaving mill, Ireland’s oldest in fact, as proudly proclaimed in the photo above!
Most of the weaving today is done on power looms and there are only two remaining handweavers employed. You can read a little more about the history of the mill and the company on their website.
The weaving rooms are open to the public and you are free to explore to your heart’s content. There are information signs to guide you and explain the various processes.
At entrance there’s a small museum type space with memorabilia and a few antiques along with a short video documentary running on a loop.
The memory that stayed with me from childhood was the smell, and it’s still there. That lovely sheepy, wooly smell of lanolin and spinning oil!
We chatted briefly to the two handweavers who told us that demand for the blankets is still high in both the traditional Irish loving markets of Germany and the US along with the emerging Japanese market. The Japanese love their aran jumpers!
I have to confess that I was so busy snapping away, that I neglected to read all the info signs! However, as far as I know, these lovely, stringy, complex contraptions are used to line up and wind the wool onto the giant spools for the weft threads.
If you’re ever in that neck of the woods, do pop in. I’m going to leave the rest of the post to the pretty pics and you can find even more in my Flickr album. Enjoy!
I finished this cardigan back in January but partly due to the miserable extended Winter, I only got around to taking the photos recently. My mum was behind the camera on this occasion, and the lovely backdrop is the weathered wood of her studio.
The pattern is ‘Louise’ by Deb Hoss and is knitted in Lang Yarns Merino 120. I made the sleeves full length instead of 3/4 as in the pattern, by just knitting two extra repeats of the diamond lace pattern before beginning the increasing. I suppose I could have made the cuffs a little narrower to compensate, but they worked out fine 🙂 .
It’s the size M (40″) and is probably a bit big for me (37″ bust), despite the apparent gaping on the button band. The neckline is wide and loose and with my gauge / this yarn it’s a bit stretchy causing the shoulders to fall a bit. Looking at the pics, I could have probably adjusted the positioning of the buttons to help the band overlap better – they are sewn centrally. The pattern includes short rows in the garter buttonband to compensate for differences in gauge between it and the lace. However, with my gauge, this appears to have made the band too long and caused some puckering.
I have worn it pretty much constantly from finishing it until when Spring finally broke a couple of weeks ago! It’s a fun, well written knit and the lace is simple enough to memorise and keeps things interesting. Deb has lots more similar lovelies on her site, Deb Hoss Knits.