Monday, 13 February 2017

Book: "Vintage Details" by Jeffrey Mayer and Basia Szkutnicka

My photo isn't terribly great, but this is what it looks like

I have bought and am giving myself a fantastic book as a present. Yay me!

"Vintage Details - A Fashion Sourcebook"  is just wonderful. It is also pretty heavy, a real coffee table book and I would buy it as a paperback again for easier storage. But this book deserves to be so heavy: there is just such a lot in it. And what gorgeousness!

It is chockful of photographs, initially as smaller index card style photos ('Visual Index') so you can quickly leaf through this section to visually identify what you are looking for.  This index tells you what page the larger photographs are on. So useful!

Often one of the pictures later on in the book will show a close-up of a detail, a cuff turned inside out, sleeves laid so you can see the most interesting part, a pocket flap turned back, the inside of a garment, etc.

Just look at this beautiful gusset, courtesy of the sleeve being folded out of the way:


The folded back tab shows an otherwise hidden seam and where the button is relative to the pocket flap:


The book is divided into several chapters: necklines; collars; sleeves; cuffs; pockets; fastenings & buttonholes; hems, darts, stitching & fitting devices; pleats, frills & flounces; embellishment; surface; and construction.

Going through the book feels like you've been to a fabulous vintage clothing exhibition but you didn't have to take your own photos hoping they'll come out well and show the details that caught your eye - instead it is all in here, in a very well presented way.

I love the shaped seam under the inverted pleat
This is in the Construction chapter, showing the inside of the dress

I know I will go through this book again and again: to look for inspiration, to remind myself of something I half remember and just for the sheer pleasure of indulging in this visual delight of what makes vintage clothing so fascinating and absorbing.

I give this book five out of five stars. I can only recommend it warmly: go find it, buy it.

"Vintage Details - A Fashion Sourcebook" by Jeffrey Mayer and Basia Szkutnicka. Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2016

Thursday, 2 February 2017

A pretty crochet border

...or how good it feels to complete a long-time UFO.  Damn good!

I started this project, a nice, cool summer top, so many years ago that I don't remember when. Judging from intervening house moves it was at least three years ago, but could be longer.


It is finished!!!  Ta-da!

I am so pleased. The feeling of satisfaction at completing something that was cluttering up my space: it is a priceless, unbeatable feeling. To no longer come across it and having to think: "Oh yeah, I need to finish that at some point, soon, whenver...".  Such a relief!

I do have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy too many unfinished projects hanging around like a bad smell. Triggering uncomfortable, opppressive vibes.

I want to no longer contribute to even more of them. It has to stop: either complete it, throw it out or do something (whatever it is) with it. Give to friends, to a charity shop, rip it back down if it's knitted, throw it in a clothes collection bin for making blankets out of or whatever they do...

I don't intend on exposing myself to the disheartening pressure of wanting to go through everything I have lying around and get this fixed right this minute, if not yesterday - I will take my time over it.  I am able to do this on a gradual basis, I don't have to stress myself out.  I will look at a few projects at a time, both knitting and sewing or quilting projects, and decide on which one 'grabs' me the most.  I like using spontaneous urges that have me pick up one specific thing - it usually means that I successfully deal with it.

As I mentioned, my sewing group is having a two-part sewalong on looking over UFOs, one was in January, the next one Part 2 is in March.  This proved extremely beneficial: I got the urge to look at just this or that UFO, and had started to do a little sewing here and there too.

Then I came across some of my knit UFO projects that are too numerous to mention - this is just the first one I was able to do something with.  I had absolutely no idea how I was going to deal with a gaping big neckline, the thought of knit ribbing was a bit offputting.

Seeing how pretty this crochet border looks, I am extremely glad that I looked for something else.  I do save a lot of photos I find inspiring. One of them was of a page in a Japanese book, an edging there inspired the top half of my border. I improvised the other part at the bottom:


I put down a foundation row of double crochet stitches.



I was able to go 'around' the corners by not crocheting into every stitch. The top part of the pattern then also missed out a stitch here and there to make it lie flat.



Same at the back.  You can also see that my "seam line" between sleeve and body looks a little odd. I used the seamless method* by decreasing at this point in every second row. The kink in the line comes from switching from decreasing in the body area to decreasing at the sleevehead.

This method is probably a bit better for fibres that are smoother and will pull into place a bit better than this cotton yarn.


I made the ribbing in a K2 P1 pattern.


This photo shows the problem of the neckline very well: not only is it too big, the fabric also rolls in as well as out in several places. This would have never looked good or felt comfortable if left like this - I was really unsure what to do with it for a long time.

I can also see now that I could have decreased between sleeve and body a little more further down. You live and you learn!

Overall I am content but not ecstatic with how the top looks on me.  I am utterly delighted in an over-the-moon way that I finished it!

Yay me.

Now where is that other WIP where I need to do my magic with the squashed sleeveheads? Lemme at it!


PS: The seamless sweater method* has been explained by Elizabeth Zimmermann in at least one of her books, and also by Tuulia who developed a pattern that you can buy.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Another thought on why I build up a stash

I am using some stash fabric in making a new quilt, that is the patchwork for its top. I don't intend to get this done any time soon, I just wanted to see what the blocks look like.

I saw this intriguing tutorial about sewing four strips together and cutting four triangles from each square. It does make a lovely pattern:


The busy looking navy is a cheap fabric I got from a Shephard's Bush shop several years ago for the purpose of mixing it with other navy fabrics for quilts. The assembly of this pattern was intriguing, I wanted to see for myself how this would turn out. I literally started without a plan. Can always make a baby quilt, right?

So of course I like this so much that I would love to make this into a big quilt and of course I am running out of these fabrics! That was kind of obvious, wasn'n it?  I like this patterned blue fabric so much that I want to run back to Shephard's Bush to check if there's more and then buy loads!

I think I may have had another insight on why I build up a stash and then have huge trouble to dip into it and use stuff up: when I sew with a fabric like this one, that I had been looking forward to using, only I had no idea on what yet...

...it means that I need to let go of something that seemed to have a lot of promise. I could maybe even make a top with it if the mood strikes! I'll make lovely quilts! I'll do this, I'll do that!

I am finding it so hard to use stash material because I might 'waste' it on something that won't look great (like it does in my head when I think about the potential) - it's like some fabrics are my favourites and it feels painful to see them graduate (to become part of a project), grow up (move from 'possibility' to 'actually being used') and then leave home (i.e. leave my stash).

I bought a great FQ once at Alexandra Palace (I used some of it for my Steampunk vibe skirt) - the seller said something like she was letting one of her kids go: because it was the last one of this pattern, and that she knows all her fat quarters so well that it feels like a loss when she sells some of them.

I finally know what she meant because I am experiencing it, just by putting the darn thing to the use it is intended for. I had some fabrics so long, they feel like part of the family now! Ach...

I really need to get over this. If I want to keep admiring fabrics then I should hang them on the wall like it's artwork. But I can't just keep them around in case I want to pull something out and sigh over it! I mean, come on!? That's beyond silly.

The issue with this specific fabric is also that it felt like a very versatile fabric: the pattern can be mixed with anything: similar navy shades or contrast colours. I feel a bit desolate that I narrowed it down to this one choice, and therefore it is 'versatile' no longer.

So looking at the whole thing from another angle: does that mean that most of my fabrics are not versatile enough to be easily applied to a pattern? Did I buy a lot of fabrics only because I liked them but they may be too difficult to use?  Is that another reason why I have so much stash?

I do find that it can be really difficult to try and find a suitable fabric when I want to start a project. I often wish I could go and buy new so I get to pick weight, colour, pattern and fibre in special dedication to the particular item. But when I did try and buy new for e.g. my waterfall collar jacket [I'll insert a link once I do post about it] I couldn't find a single thing I really liked - "making do" with something from my stash did then let me go ahead and start.

I may have to let some of my old fabrics go. To lighten the load. Or start with a fabric and decide on a project, that might work better. Oh crikey...

Sneak peak of the waterfall jacket (it needs a lot of fitting and adjustment work):