See You Round Like A Rainbow

Rainbows are definitely becoming a theme for me this year. A couple of months ago the Spotlight store (craft supplies and whatnots, for those who aren’t Australian) posted a photo on their instagram of rainbow yarn.

“Aww, that’s a shame” I thought, “I’m on a no yarn buy at the moment until I’ve cleared down the stash a bit”. I said this as I grabbed my handbag and flung myself out the door to the nearest Spotlight. Look, I tried to resist. I tried.

View of the back of the rainbow slouch hat

It took a fair bit of pattern hunting to find one I both liked and could do. I’m no great crocheter so I like a basic pattern. This one is the Autumn Slouch Hat by Swellamy on Etsy. This was a really good buy, the pattern is written beautifully and it’s a nice straight-forward project. I mostly worked it as stated, but I did add a couple more increase rounds because I have a big head. Also I tend to work a very tight stitch, which is a habit I can’t seem to break. I think it comes from starting to learn to crochet with Amigurumi, those little crochet toys. They need to be worked very tightly so they can be stuffed properly.

Front view of the hat

I actually finished this thing a week ago, I’ve been waiting until I’d dyed my hair to post it. You’re welcome. You may have spotted that while the yarn is gorgeous and bright and many coloured, it’s not actually a proper spectrum. It’s very heavy on the green, not so much on the red.  It’s not hugely apparent in this hat, but it’s showing in the scarf I’m making. However, that’s going to be an infinity scarf, so it doesn’t matter. Apart from the fact there’s not enough red, that always matters.

Two half hats, to compare

On the right in the above picture is the first hat I tried. It was okay, but the pattern was worked in joined rounds. This meant the join was super obvious because of the colour changes. You can also see where it’s gone a bit hexagonal, which seems to happen with joined rounds. The sizing was weird too. I even worked to gauge on that (sorta) and it just didn’t work. I’m much happier with the spiral. The colour changes are smooth and lovely like a marble bench made of crochet.

The yarn I used was Moda Vera Fayette in Frenzy. It’s quite nice to work with, but varies in thickness a little bit. There’s a bit on the scarf that’s like laceweight. I suppose you could cut around those bits if they bothered you.

Patchwork Scarf

I’m getting reasonably good at patchwork, I’ll have you know. So good, in fact, that when I found a bundle of batik style fat quarters I’d bought on whim a few years ago, I decided to revisit the “Icicle Scarf” from “Stripped Down Patchwork” by Erin Gilday. I’ve made this three times before, the first time was a bit of a disaster because I did the maths wrong, and other two times went perfectly. The only problem with the last one I made for myself was the pressing cloth moved, and some of the fabric melted. You know, tiny things.

Because I was using Fat Quarters, the first step was to cut the fabric into short strips. These would then be sewn into long strips, before being sewn together and cut into short strips again.

Fabric cut into strips

Because I wasn’t using a limitless supply of fabric, I had to do some maths on this and I don’t like doing maths on things. It makes me frowny and a bit cross. I did a whole page of maths before I realised I was basing the entire thing on the wrong measurement and I had to start over. I know, you feel for me right now. Thanks. Turns out I got the second lot of maths wrong too, but this was actually a good thing. I’ll explain later. The end result was the strips were 5cm wide which meant precision cutting. Can you imagine me being precise? I can’t, and I was there.

Wrapped thumb

Let’s all be thankful I was once a Brownie because yes of course I slashed myself with the rotary cutter again. Quite deep this time, hence the emergency bandage made of off cuts. Again, I wasn’t even cutting fabric at this point so I have no idea what I was doing to get cut, but there you have it.   Precision.

Long strips joined up into a single piece

Once all the little short strips are turned into long strips, it’s a matter of sewing them all into one super long bit of fabric. Up until this point, everything was lovely, apart from all the bleeding. This is when the maths went skew-wiff though. Basically, what you do with your long strip is cut into triangles. I already knew the measurements in the book wouldn’t work because the strips were a different width. So I mathed, and it ended badly. Instead of half squares, I had half diamonds. I’d cut four before I realised why this wouldn’t work. You still get a bit of the effect, but the edges are zig zagged and also the stripes don’t continue through the whole thing. Back to the math board! That lasted a while, as I did counting on my fingers, but in the end i just got a big bit of cardboard and plonked the corner down on the top edge of the fabric, then drew a line where the bottom edge was and there you go, easy. Worked!

Half squares

See? Half squares. I’m amazing, go me! Okay so they’re a little bit off kilter but shit happens. Those are all sewn together in squares, which are then sewn together in a strip. Here’s why it’s good I messed up my maths earlier – I had a lot more strip length than I needed, letting me cut the proper number of proper triangles even though I’d cut stupid ones previously. I thought I wasn’t going to make it actually, but then I realised I’d cut more triangles than I really needed because counting to eight is difficult.

Backing

I didn’t end up using all the squares anyway, because my backing fabric was a tight fit. You can see in the above photo I had to hack a bit off and stick it to the end, I’d also had to turn some of the bits and jigsaw it a bit. I did order some orange polar fleece (which the original pattern calls for), but the colour was a bit wrong and I liked this rusty orange against the purple better. Backing mostly was alright, things shifted a bit in the pinning. This was probably partly me not pinning it enough, and partly the small dog that kept walking around on it while I was pinning. I’ll blame the dog, she can’t read this anyway.

Finished scarf

Once the backing is on, and I have done a lot of swearing because it moved around a lot and pfft to that, and the edges of the strips topstitched (more swearing as I had to unpick some – but I do love sewing, I do I do. I just like swearing as much), it was all done. I’d like to make sure you appreciate the Industrial Grunge Chic Aesthetic I went with for that photo because I’m a blogger, dammit. I’m all about random words shoved in front of the word “aesthetic”. Probably get a sponsorship deal out of this one.

ON a fence

For those who prefer an Outdoor Rural Rustic Aesthetic, here’s the scarf on a fence. Actually this is to show off the colours properly, aren’t they pleasing? I’m so pleased. You can also see where the backing got all scrumbled, but eh. I respond to the scrumbling with a big fat EH and you can quote me on that.

Tablecloth Handbag

Last night I was standing the dark next to my car, with a first aid dummy hoisted up onto my hip and two ukuleles in my hand as I tried to find my car keys in my bag. I decided then and there to finally make the handbag I’ve been looking at. That’s not quite true, I decided later I’d make a new bag but gosh it was a dramatic moment wasn’t it?

Anyoldway, as much as I love my old handbag, it’s actually gone from “Nicely roomy” to “too big too big!”. I’d like to say I’ve made a smaller one in an effort to streamline my life and embrace a minimalist ideal, but really it’s just because I’m fed the fuck up hunting for my keys/lighter/phone/purse in a big bag.

Handbag made from vintage tablecloth

I’ve been eyeing off the tutorial for this bag over at Mmmcrafts for ages on the basis it looked quick, and was a nice size. I was right on both counts. The most time consuming part of this project was all the wandering around I did, poking things and looking out the window in a very procrastinatey way. Although I’ve taken the time to fling some scrap fabric over the cutting board to make a proper background for once, I can’t help but feel yellow wasn’t the right choice. Too late now, the camera battery is on charge and all hope of a redo is lost.

The outside fabric, you may have gathered from the post title, is a vintage tablecloth I got in a bundle from eBay a while back because I buy fabric bundles when I’m sad (don’t judge me). The fabric of the tablecloth was a little bit soft to be a bag on it’s own, but the lining fabric is sturdy and that holds all the shape. Well done lining fabric, unsung hero of the handbag world.

Front pocket of the bag

I changed a few bits of the tutorial pattern. The tutorial has the external pocket on the back of the bag, but I’d rather have the pocket under the flap so I did that. There’s a photo even, to prove that I would not lie to you about flaps and pockets.  The other change I did was not rounding the flap corners. This was because I couldn’t be bothered clipping curves. I mean, that’s for aesthetic reasons and nothing at all to do with me being slack.  I also didn’t divide the inner pocket into two because I don’t have many tiny things that need a pocket all their own.

Inside of the table cloth bag

The lining fabric came… oh. It’s from eBay. I bought a bundle of …fabric one time. Shush. The bag is plenty big enough for what I need to carry such as my frog purse (which I made but never blogged), my tobacco pouch (which I made but never blogged), a Morsbag (which I made) and my phone (which I bought with money I made). I’m perfectly willing to pretend that this is all that’s ever in my bag, and that I never carry around loose change in the bottom of the pockets. Or old receipts. Or loose tobacco. Or random bits of crap. Not me! Minimalist! Streamlined! Not at all full of shit!

That went better than expected

Right, this is going to be a long post I suspect, so make a cup of tea. I’ll have one too while you’re up – white with one thanks. Since my last post, I’ve actually finished the skirt. Much, much faster than expected, if we’re honest. So here’s the bits I did since I last posted.

Rolled up skirt with all colours

Pink and white were added. These are what I consider “buffer colours”, because I’m not much of a fan of pink and would have started this skirt at red if I owned shorter shirts. My shirts are, without exception, longish. I don’t tuck in because I don’t care for your rules, you square. So the white and pink serve to “lower” the good colours so they can be seen under my shirt.

Once I’d done all the tiers, I sewed the open edges together with a rather natty French seam. Then I hoisted it all up around myself to check the length. It’s not quite as long as I was expecting it to be, but that works out well because I tend to trip over my clothes a lot. It’s better to have some kick room, which is not to say I won’t fall over this. We both know I will.

The hoisting up also helped check the sizing. If it had been all huge at the waist, I’d have gathered the white tier into the waistband a bit. I did end up gathering the white a tiny bit, but that’s really because I cut the waistband too short and couldn’t be bothered recutting it. The top edge of the white was finished with a zigzag which may or may not be enough to save it from dissolving, we’ll see. It’s exciting, like a cliff hanger!

Finished skirt hanging in a tree

The waistband is basically a length of fabric with the edges folded in, sewn to the top of the skirt so that the raw edges of the white are encased. I did a double seam on that, because this skirt is kinda heavy. Although there’s a drawstring, I also opted to slip some elastic in there so it was a bit gathered in by itself, and also for extra holdyupability. The drawstring is just a long strip of left over purple fabric, folded in half and sewn closed. Then I turned it out, pressed it and top stitched it. You care. I can tell.

I was expecting this thing to weigh a lot more than it does. It’s only 1.2 kilos, which is practically nothing when compared to… you know. Things heavier than that. Like abnormally large hats. I bought a luggage scale specifically to find out how much this weighs, by the way. Dedication. I’m not allowed to weigh babies with it, which is a shame as I was planning to open a door to door baby weighing business. Thwarted again.

Yours truly holding up a skirt, like a dork

I’m bloody delighted at how well this thing fits, because that means I get to actually wear it instead of shoving it in a cupboard until doomsday. It’s getting two outings this week already, and I’m not even charging money for that. Really, I’m lovely in so many ways.

How do I stand?

I do not enjoy having my photo taken because I never know how to stand, a fact which is screamingly apparent in the above picture. What are hands for? Where do I put those? Am I even real? Why can I smell toast? Still, it lets you see how the skirt sits. The skirt sits wonderfully, even when I’m standing around like a complete doofus.

I sent the above photo to my friends Evie and Lizzie, and Evie said almost right away “Is it twirly??” to which I replied with this photo:

Swirling

It’s absolutely twirly. Glee!

Thanks for following along with me as I indulged myself with a stupidly massive project, and thanks to my Facebook buddies for (presumably) not muting me as I spam their time lines with fabric and thread. This has been so fun, I’ve loved every second of putting this skirt together and feel a bit lost now I’ve finished it. It’s okay though – I’ve a pair of jeans that have given up, and a couple of table cloths to sew to those jeans. New skirt ahoy!

Orange You Glad, and also Red

Double colour update today to celebrate the fact I couldn’t be bothered doing a post just for orange. Now things are zooming along quick like, I didn’t want to risk establishing a daily update habit which would fall to bits as soon as I finish this skirt. It’s all about managing audience expectations, really.

Skirt pinned with the orange layer and taking up a whole bench thank you

Above, we see the moment when I thought “This has become unwieldy”.  While the tiers are being finished much faster as they get smaller (well obviously), moving the whole lot around for pinning/sewing/trimming/pressing is becoming a bit of a production. Not that I’m complaining. I’d rather be under all this fabric than doing something unfun.

Skirt up to orange spread out

Just for a change from the rolled up skirt, here it is just before seam pressing. It’s pretty damn pleasing to look at, even if I do say so myself. And hey, even though I’ve said so myself, feel free to agree with me. I will allow it.

Skirt rolled up

The rolled up rockets are free standing, by the way. My Mum thought I was wrapping them around a cone of some kind, but nope. Sheer volume of fabric. There was a slight complication with attaching the red. Shall I tell you about it? Okay then. In order to avoid any half squares, the number of orange squares was rounded up. This means that the gathering of 1.5 squares to 1 square was slightly not right. I’m explaining this brilliantly, and should have gone into teaching. I woodged it, it’s perfectly okay but there’s one orange square that’s not as gathered as the others. This should end up at the back of the skirt, so I’ll simply always have my back to something and refrain from pointing at it in public.

I’ve only pink and white to add now, and the white is potentially waistband. I’m not sure yet. I want to see the overall length before I worry about the waistband. I also kind of don’t want to do a waistband because I don’t particularly like doing them. I know, they’re kind of important in your basic skirt, but there you have it.

Mellow Yellow

It’s all getting a bit quick now isn’t it? The yellow is attached, seamed and pressed and you’re delighted. I can tell.

Rolled skirt

The above picture is pre-zigzag/trim. I didn’t take that many pictures of yellow going on, I think I was distracted by the Netflix series on murderous women I’m watching while I sew. Some of them were quite stabby.

Yellow, green, blue and purple tiers rolled up

It took me until I was sewing the green to the yellow to realise I should probably just remove the dental floss as I go, rather than trying to snip it all out at the end. I never claimed to be smart. This has meant that for the first time, I don’t have a tier that smells a bit minty. It’s a loss, I can tell you.

There’s always too many photos of this (and other stuff) on my Instagram if you’re interested. I should warn you I tend to take a lot of pictures of spiders, because I think they’re dreamy. 

(Every time I roll the whole thing up for a picture, I start thinking of the Rocket Clock from Playschool. Not relevant, but something I felt you should know).

Green Acres

Sorry for putting the “Green Acres” theme in your head, in the sense that I’m not at all sorry.  It’s been bopping around in my brain since yesterday, it’s your turn now.

Green strip being pinned and sewn to the blue and purple

The green is now firmly (I hope) attached to the blue. The gathering on this one is a bit harder as it’s 1.5 squares of blue to one square of green. I mean, it’s not astrophysics, but it did make me do some thinking which is not what I signed up for actually. The above photo also illustrates beautifully my inability to sew dental floss to anything in a straight line.

Green, blue and purple strips sewn together and rolled up

When you gather and sew in short sections because you don’t own enough pins, there comes a time toward the end of the strip where you think “I hope this actually lines up”. The green did line up perfectly, which made me do a tiny happy dance in my chair. Of course, if it hadn’t I’d have just made it fit. Unpicking is for wimps.

Green, blue and purple tiers rolled and standing up

When I hang out with my lovely friend Suzie and play the ukulele with her, she refers often to “Jazz notes” which might seem like the wrong chord being played, but it’s actually interpretative. I mention this because this skirt is basically a bunch of “Jazz seams”. Look, everything is attached, let’s not get persnickety about the method of attachment. The way I described my seams on Facebook was “wandering around like a blind duck”. I did own a blind duck once, and she did wander around pretty randomly. It’s a good description.

Right, I’m off to make more coffee and see if I can’t make the green stick nicely to the yellow.

The Gathering Storm

Seriously though, is there some kind of award for blog post titles? I’m bloody good at them. I’ll cheerfully accept your nominations.

The time had come to actually start skirt assembly. The first problem I struck was with the gathering. As this skirt is basically one big gather, this was quite the problem. I tried all sorts of things, but the issue really came down to my sewing machine stitch length. Even the longest stitch is pretty short in the grand scheme of things. Also my threads kept snapping, which made me say unladylike things.

I’d started on the white because it was short, but was despairing of doing battle with this snappy thread thing for the other tiers. I then tried hand gathering, but come on now. Just… come on now. Giving up, I headed to Google where I found this tutorial on gathering with waxed dental floss. Oh. My. God. Works like a fucking charm, saved my sanity (shush you) and here we have a gathered and sewn purple/blue combo.

I’ve seen people roll out their final tier on a basketball court or something, and gather it up there. I, as it turned out, couldn’t be bothered doing that. Instead, I just gathered two purple squares at a time and pinned them to fit one blue square. I did this in batches of about 15ish blue squares. This was for a couple of reasons – one so I could start and end my threads properly and avoid sudden bobbin outage, also so I could break up the pinning and sewing into more manageable chunks. The main reason however is I just don’t own enough pins to do the whole tier at once. I could have bought more pins, but eh.

Everything was going really, really well. Just as I was about to go back to work for another shift I did a quick count of the remaining squares. I had ten blue, twenty purple left. Perfect. Exactly perfect. When I sat down again I found I had nine blue and nineteen purple. I do not know what happened. I’m going to assume gremlins, pixies or a blip in space time continuum.  If it makes you feel better, I went back and unpicked to fit everything together properly. That’s a lie I’m telling you, to make you feel better. I woodged it. It’s fine.

I started with the longest tier as a Dental Floss Conservation Method. I planned to remove the floss and reuse it on the shorter tiers, thereby saving floss and possibly the world. This would have worked, had I not ended up with loops of floss which I sewed all the over the place. The floss was ripped out as the seam was trimmed. It’s zig zagged, then trimmed because it’s a deep seam from the square joining allowance. I don’t have an overlocker, so it’s all manual because I’m hardcore.

Stats:
Number of unpicking sessions: Just one, from when the blue folded up under itself and got all ridiculous.
Number of holes I need to patch: One. Small. From the unpicking. I am a violent unpicker.
Number of times I’ve rammed at least fifteen pins into my palm while adjusting things: At least a hundred.
Length of dental floss remaining sewn into the seam: Has to be at least 5 metres. At least the whole thing smells minty fresh.

In Which Our Heroine Makes A Confession

You arrive at my house on a windswept, thundery night.  Over the sound of the rain, you can hear the hounds barking at your arrival. You wrestle your way through the dark garden, the branches of trees and shrubs seeming to claw at you in the wind. Bracing against the icy rain, you head for the door, lit with a warm yellow light on this pitch black night. As you raise your hand to knock on the door, I fling it open.
“You’re here,” I say, you can hear the tension in my voice. “I wasn’t sure if… Please, come in”. I step aside to allow you to pass before I close the door behind you. You hear the lock click into place as you make your way to the lounge. I take your coat and hang it up with shaking hands. You are ready to ask me what all this is about and you open your mouth to speak but I shake my head.
Swishing my long skirts as I pass you, I head to the drinks cabinet and pour you a small brandy. I hand it to you, pressing it against your palm to ensure you take the drink. You shake your head, and place the glass on the bench before grasping me by the shoulders. You stare into my face, searching for answers to this terrible mystery.
“What is it?” you ask, your voice trembling with anxiety.
I look away and shake my head “It’s too dreadful” I whisper. Tears begin to spill down my cheeks as I wrestle myself from your grasp. I turn to the window, my attention caught by the rain outside. You place a gentle hand on my shoulder. “Please” you say, softly, “it can’t possibly be that bad”.
“Get your glass,” I say, still facing the window, “You’ll… you’ll need a drink”.
Once I am sure you are ready and waiting for all this to be brought into the open, I take a deep breath and say in a trembling voice “I.. I needed you to know. I needed you to hear it from me and not from some gossip in the street…”. Lightening flashes outside, lighting the room in stark brightness for a second. You wait in silence. I turn to you, and look you square in the eye. Thunder rolls in the wild, broken night and I say “I didn’t press my hem before sewing”.
Your brandy glass slips to the floor, shattering on impact. You take some panicked steps away from me, shaking your head and clawing the air to keep me at a distance. Before your very eyes I have become a monster.

Rolled strip of purple patchwork with a wonky hem

I did plan to press my hem. Honestly. I did. I even started pressing it. Having faffed about with that for a good hour or so and having made it almost exactly nowhere in that time I thought to myself “Self, fuck this”. I agreed with myself and ditched the pressing entirely. You know what’s short? Life. Life is pretty short. I have plans this week, I have ukulele group and art class and Ross Noble tickets and all sorts of fun stuff that isn’t standing over an ironing board with fogged up glasses. I did double sew it though, so be a bit impressed please.

Instead of a perfectly measured, perfectly pressed hem I have what can only be described as “a long stretch of wonky”. Which is actually very fine as there’s such a lot of hem which will have such a lot of gathering. It’ll also be almost at ground level, so it’d have to be a very short person with a very good eye to pick the dodgyness of the sewing there. To avoid this, I shall now only associate with tall people, and short people who wear thick glasses.

Progress on the skirt was slowed considerably by the hot weather, the machine being a little bitch about everything and limited access to the sewing space. I’ve wrangled the machine back into order by poking around the innards with a screwdriver and swearing at it a lot. Runs like a dream now, who knew? Now that the purple is hemmed, it’s time to join the layers. This may or may not involve more swearing. Also I’m not entirely sure I own enough pins.

Quick aside. In 1992 my English teacher said “Don’t write any fiction in the second person, it never really works”. I can now see he had a point.

I am done with stripping.

Never again will someone have to pay me $20 to put my clothes back on! Wait, different stripping. All my squares are now tidy tidy in long strips and ready for the next step.

Rolled up strips of patchworked fabric.

Is stripping the word for that? It feels right, so we’ll go with it. The last of the purple went together last night, and now all I have to do is gather the strips and sew them all together and then I’ll have a skirt. How hard could it be? Okay I might have a skirt for Christmas as gathering that purple alone is going to be a big task. I’m going to hem the purple first because I am terrible at hems. I figure if I hem it before it’s all skirt shaped I might have better odds of getting it reasonably correct.

Little bit in love with how lovely the edges are in these rolls. If I had time, and fabric, and nothing else to do for a year I’d make some stools or something. Since I’m not going to, feel free to use that idea for your very own, you’re welcome.

I’m kind of frustrated with the lack of variety in my purple fabrics – there’s a lot of repetition in it. On the other hand, it’ll be gathered quite a lot so it might not be so noticeable. Except that I just pointed it out. Damn you, honesty. Damn you to hell. 

A secondary problem has arisen, apart from my lack of leet skillz. The sewing machine is chugging again, and I suspect the problem is the same one that sent it off to the service place last time. Feels the same. I’m giving it a rest today, not just because I’m working most of today and also it’s stupidly hot, so we’ll see if it’s perked up any tomorrow. If it hasn’t, more servicing ahoy!