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 …
… 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).
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]