Are pinstripes dull?

Or is it just me that got bored ? I’ve been assuming that “FO” used by some in blogging land meant “Finished Object”.  For me it means “Finally Over” – perhaps this is the meaning afterall…   This will be a tale in two parts, with CFO (Completely Finished Object) in pictures to follow when there is light & maybe even music.  For now you will have to remain tantalised by mere glimpses …

Starting point: one unsatisfactory frumpy handmade skirt, at least 6 years old but made out of beautiful wool (unlined).  See how I close my eyes to ignore the truth …

Before ....

… took it apart completely (& I mean total dismemberment) for its fabric.

Liking the idea of making a boring grey pinstripe fun, mixing it up a little by wearing it with florals, spots perhaps & girded with faith I was inspired by a comment Roobeedoo gave me “you could always make it into a pencil skirt”.   I embarked upon an evolution of an idea (not to be recommended but perhaps typical of someone like me who needs to leap in without necessarily giving proper consideration to thinking everything through up front). I’d my idea & adapted the Built by Wendy basic A line skirt pattern narrowing it & adding a saucy front split.  Everything else that “happened” to this skirt though was definitely organic & inspired by things I saw around me.   I became aware of details that became absorbed into the design through reading about others’ sewing, that were not there in my original vision  eg:

  • Adding a waistband (so many skirts these days sit below the waist & are faced)
  • Trying all sorts of different machine embroidery stitches to add a bit of vooomph to the centre front seam & the split
  • Oh yes – I could add a funky lining as well
  • And buttons – try something odd but deliberate.

I tried very hard to pay attention to detail to get a perfect fit & make this skirt into the skirt it deserved to be.   I’d chosen some bright blue sari fabric for the lining but wasn’t sure how well it would work out.

Points of demoralisation came at frequent milestones eg:

  • Revelation of the barefaced truth that comes from making clothes for yourself, taking the time to fit- the stark black & white fluctuations in your size & shape – there on paper, right in front of your eyes
  • It was too slow & was becoming bored
  • Then there was the machine embroidery …
  • My unpicker & me – over familiar!
  • I didn’t get excited by it – can you tell?  Lots of other things squeezed out sewing time – birthday weekends away, finally taking running training seriously-ish.  My youngest in the midst of revising & now taking his A levels – I couldn’t spurn him for the sewing machine in the few evenings he needed to chill out.

The worst bit, the absolute pits, was the trial & error machine embroidery.  I did some fun testing on the only remaining spare piece of fabric trialling combinations & columns of at least 7 different stitches.  Yes that is probably 4 more than I have ever experimented with.  By the time I was through (major prevarications to find a potential winning combination) this tester piece was so cute & reminded me of quaintly embroidered leather goods found in the duty free at Geneva airport ( that I secretly covet, but alas too expensive for me).

Swiss style?

Oo, it was going to look so sweet:  down the centre a line of alternating snowflakes & flowers enclosed with scallops.  But the pain, the tedium, the frustration.  It is officially impossible (well from the machine that I sit & sweat at) to get the scallops to meet exactly & mirror each other.

I must have unpicked it 3 very slow times, tried sewing with tracing paper underneath, changed direction …. grrrr!  The pretty Swiss look was out then, & the double rows of triple stitching by comparison more straightforward with only one unpicking (mis-loaded shuttle).  This skirt was not charming me.

Until, that is, I attached the lining.  And then the trumpets blew, Cupid fired his arrow & I swooned (more than once).  I’d forgotten how a lining can transform an item of clothing.  Rarely do I sew with better quality fabric, being led by my stingy purse the majority of my sewing has been with cheaper lightweight cotton mixes.  This wool skirt was given new life, its quality extended by adding the lining.  For the first time I felt like I really might end up with a lovely skirt, a skirt that warranted the time I’d fiddled around unpicking the bits that didn’t work.

The skirt is by no means perfect – will you notice the pinstripe tramlines converging/ diverging in supposedly straight seams?   I could have thought about matching the chequered lining (getting a straight grain would have also made it look rather smarter!) The proof will be in the wearing, & so far it is awaiting the final press ….next post on this will be more picture heavy & the evidence will be presented …You know I’m taking a risk here …. I haven’t tried it on since hemming …. if it’s a fail, I promise to still post pictures!

But onto a point I touched on earlier – young people & exams.  It makes me so cross how much pressure young people are put under with GCSEs & AS & then A levels.  These days in many cases they get entered to take some GCSEs early, so from the age of 14 they have real exams to take every year. And at A & AS level, that’s twice a year.  And if you decide to retake your early GCSEs again (to improve your grade) what kind of madness is that – why bother taking them early?  It’s not fun, all this pressure.  Back in the day at least you could rely on a lower sixth year to develop your social life & have fun, relax into the different way of working needed at A level, grow into the different way 6th formers are treated by teachers, and have an exam free year.  My poor boy!  [Rant over]

0 thoughts on “Are pinstripes dull?

  1. Debbie

    It looks very promising os far… I like the combination of embroidery and pinstripe. I am looking forward to seeing the FO (teehee, note my “bloggerspeak”). I feel for you with the boy and exam pressure I remember lower sixth as a very social time, lots of underage nightclubs. I still have the whole GCSE etc to look forward to with my two…yuk.

    Reply
  2. Roobeedoo

    You are being very brave with that machine embroidery – that’s the kind of obvious stitching that scares me in case it goes wrong – even top-stitching scares me! But maybe you are a better unpicker than me! Can’t wait to see the finished garment!
    Exams? Oh my – don’t get me started. My 14-yr old girl is doing “fast track” maths (so a year early) and is struggling to keep up. I rang the teacher, who assured me that the Girl was doing “really well”… and then this week she had her mock exam result…. and it was all that we feared and everything that her teacher refused to believe! What a waste of time and stress – if she took the exam next year as the exam-devisers intended she would do so much better and without this premature anxiety!

    Reply
  3. Rachel

    Nice stitching and no, pinstripe isn’t boring! I’m looking forward to seeing your TGIFFO (TGIt’s a Finally Finished object)

    I hear you on the exam thing. I spent a couple of hours last night at an Options evening with my ds2 and I am perplexed by the apparent choice that is offered whilst the framework of the school and the syllabus are so restrictive. I saw notices talking about creativity and imagination alongside lists of criteria to be achieved and very prescriptive guidelines for projects.

    *I* know that life goes on even if you don’t pass your GCSEs and lots of people learn new skills in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond but listening to these teachers you’d think that life will be awful if you make an error in your choice of GCSEs then don’t get the right A-Levels and get the right degree. Has no one told them that the degree=job for life story is not the story they should be telling any more?

    Reply
  4. Alexandra Mason

    I love pinstripes, especially with florals, can’t wait to see your skirt. When Russ’s boys were taking their GCSE’s they were so stressed, they kept getting ill, it was awful for them. Hope you are having a great weekend!

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime

      Thank you eveyone for the pinstripe love! Photos not yet taken (I’m having to spend time on a work study project, plus it’s a grey day)

      It’s really interesting what you are all saying about exams, stress, the madness of the education system. It’s very emotive, but then I guess being a parent/ caring for kids brings out strong opinions when you see something that is so obviously a cause of suffering! And Rachel, totally agree – there is so much emphasis placed on the importance of exam results at school being the only route to achieve happiness in life…

      But , oh, those heady days of underage nightclubs, not wearing school uniform & free lessons in the library …..

      Reply

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