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!

Mors Pause

See what I did there with the title? Puh-retty clever, I know! Thanks, kind of you to say. Work on the rainbow skirt ground to almost a halt over the past week or so as I worked on these Morsbags. (Click to embiggen, as per usual.)

Morsbags with applique ukuleles

The Morsbag people are running a competition which I figured I might as well enter.  Entry requirements are simple, you need to make 10 themed Morsbags and make sure the label is included. I went with ukulele themed bags so I can hand them out at ukegroup and make people like me with Morsbag based bribes.

Sadly, the sewing machine came back from servicing with an incredible amount of oil and grease sloshing around on it. I don’t know why the screw that holds the foot on had to be coated in grease, for example. I’ve run a lot of scrap fabric through and wiped the casing down a few times, but there’s still oil/grease lurking. It’s not a problem on the skirt sewing yet as those are small bits that don’t get moved around much. There’s some splots on these bags though, which is frustrating. It’d be okay if they were for me, but I’m giving them away so it’s a bit “Sorry about the splodge there, the sewing machine service people are completely kinky for grease”.

Here we go with the sewing bit

White, pink, red and orange rows of the skirt

Sewing has commenced, with orange just now completed and rolled up for later. I’ve only fucked up the french seams once, so I’m pretty pleased with that. It bodes well for the rest of the project.

Is it, you wonder, all going a bit wonky? Of course it is. Some of my squares are more square-ish and need some faffing with to line up, and most of my seams start promisingly and then do their own thing later on. I’m not worried. For one, the sheer volume of fabric in this skirt will hide most of the wonky moments. For two, it wouldn’t be a Lyn project if it was perfect. I don’t have time for perfect.

Sewing has slowed as I replaced my old xbox360 and am distracted by shiny shiny games (Assassin’s Creed you guys! I’m murdering so many people. They deserve it, probably). Once the shine wears off there’ll be more sewing. I’ll start yellow tomorrow, which is 60 squares so we’re really getting into the big juicy numbers now.

Six Five Two

This morning, before I slipped out to “Art” class (the quotes there only apply to my personal effort in the class, everyone else knows what they’re doing which is a bit showoffy if you ask me), I cut the final 30 squares of purple and can now announce to a breathless public – all the squares are cut for this Rainbow Skirt.
Patchwork squares piled in a tower in colour order

To be honest, I probably could have finished earlier. My motivation for doing so was removed when the solid, hardworking Elna machine (circa 1968) decided everything was just too much and started making some interesting noises. It’s home again now, and feeling a bit like when you get your brakes done on your car. You’re so used to them being a bit soft you keep accidentally slamming them on. I ran up a quick bag to check it out and make sure it was all working, but I suspect I’ll pack the bags away for a while to focus on this skirt.

Hand drawn skirt pattern with a lovely coffee stain

For those wanting the full picture, here’s the “pattern”. Some things of note, apart from the coffee stain and various other stains I can’t determine the origin of,  Originally I was going to smooth the blend between green and blue with a nice aqua, but then I decided “fuck that” and crossed it out, firmly. The 8 at the bottom there is the number of tiers, incase I suddenly lost the ability to count things. I think the 103 is the length, but who knows? The 11cm is the size of the squares in the finished skirt, but the 13 cm refers to the whole lot with the seam allowance, which is wrong. With seam allowance, the squares are 14cm and I don’t know why I thought 13 was not only correct, but correct enough to circle.

The numbers after the colour names refer to the number of squares, but you probably figured that out yourself. Anyway, as you can see, each tier is 1.5 times as long as the one above, with some fudging to avoid half squares. The final tier is a straight up double of the one above.

In other news, the colour I had the most trouble getting hold of was orange. This morning while looking for something else I found a bundle of orange, so that was irritating. Only ended up with one slice to the fingers, though I suppose there’s still time to sew through them, cut them while trimming seams or slam them in a door.

Squares for Days

A weekly update? Has the world gone completely mad? YES. I’m back, a mere week later, to update on the Rainbow skirt progress. Squares for days is the thing. I’m almost done with the cutting part. I say “almost done” I mean “Blue and purple to finish but those are the big numbers and I may fall down insensible before I get to the last 50 squares”.
patches

I probably could have taken the “20” tags off for the photo, if we’re being honest. I was bundling them up into 10s, but then I remembered I can also count by 2s because I am pretty amazing, mathematically. As of right this very minute, I have 35 more blue to cut, and 250 purple. I’ve already cut 20 purple, but I didn’t put that bundle in the picture because it would have messed up the aesthetic. I take these things super seriously, as you know.

This last paragraph was going to be something along the lines of “I cut all those squares and didn’t slice my finger open!”. However, I was preparing a strip of blue to cut up and it’s entirely possible I sliced my finger open. Brilliantly, I wasn’t even cutting fabric at the time. I’m not sure how it happened, possibly I was waving the rotary cutter about with reckless abandon. Sounds like something I’d do.

Stupidly Massive Project 2016

I love a stupidly massive project. Mostly what I’ve been making recently is Morsbags (I’ve made 515 now, you may applaud softly). While they’re satisfying to make and a delight to give to people, I wanted something I could obsess over and sink my teeth into and probably spend a few years on.  Something that’s been floating in my brain for a few years now is a rainbow patchwork skirt. The one at the link there is magnificent and mine will be a pale imitation because where she used 10 tiers, I’m slacking right off and only using 8. This is just to simplify the colour hunting, to be honest.

squares

With 8 tiers I have 8 colours, starting at white and ending at purple. The way the skirt is sewn, you increase each tier by half the length of the one above it., except for the last tier which is twice the length of the one above. This is for swoosh. There’s just no point if you don’t have swoosh. After sorting out the length and planning a waist size that will allow me to gain weight again (not that I plan to, I just bounce around the scales a lot), I’ve ended up with a combined total of 652 squares, with the bottom hem running to 29.7 meters. Yep.

The first thing I did was buy some new blades for my rotary cutter. Then I went to the opshop and rummaged about a bit for fabric. I need to rummage again for orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. White, pink and red are done. The red was a near thing as I was 2 squares short and out of red fabric to play with. I squeezed out another couple of squares from my test sewing piece. Barely. This is so dramatic!

As it stands tonight, I’ve still got 30 to cut in orange, 55 to cut in yellow, 80 to cut in green, 90ish to cut in blue and 265 to cut in purple. I’m also suddenly reminded that the last time I made a mammoth project skirt, I didn’t end up ever wearing it.

Cheap and Cheerful

Brightly coloured acrylic yarn

The other day I was faffing about in Instagram when someone posted a picture of a bulk pack of lime green acrylic yarn from Spotlight (Spotlight is a chain here in Australia selling craft stuff and homewares). “Ew!” said the comments. “Gross!”. Not so much the colour, apparently, as the fact it was cheap acrylic. “Oh do fuck off” I said to myself, and unfollowed the yarn snob.

A considerable portion of my yarn stash is, sorry yarnsnobs, cheap acrylic. Sometimes I buy it because I like the colour, sometimes I buy it because it’s cheap. Sometimes I buy it because there’s a big bag of it and I think “I.. I need that”.  As much as I’d like to be able to use hand spun hand dyed terribly expensive yarn all the time, I can’t afford to. Nor can I justify a hand spun purchase for making the small and usually pointless objects I make. The yarn above is a novelty yarn from Spotlight and the colours just bliss me right out. It’s acrylic, mostly. It’s going to look mad and fabulous once it’s worked up into a vest. I shall wear it with joy, assuming I can upsize the pattern sizing. Stay tuned.

Quick aside, but acrylic these days is a long way from the acrylics of old. There’s a ball of yarn around here somewhere from years ago which is stiff and scratchy. These days acrylics can be soft and warm and lovely – we’ve come a long way, baby. Even the $1 a ball stuff I’ve got crammed in a basket is pretty nice to handle. Sure, it’s not pure wool nice or hand spun nice, but it’s not making me weep with sadness to use it. This big range of soft, quality acrylics means a bigger range for people with wool allergy or vegan principles. Hooray!

I’m a big, big believer in crafting being completely and fully accessible to anyone who wants to have a go. Despite what the Martha Stewarts of the world want you to think, there’s no need to spend half your wages on supplies. Currently, I’m gathering the bits together to make a cape for Winter. The outer fabric will be cut from a blanket I got at the op-shop for $10. My plan for the lining is a doona cover I .. well I got it at the op-shop for $4.  Add the pattern into the pricing and you’re looking at around $30 total. Possibly some swearing and whatnot also as it’s quite a complicated pattern. Even so, buying this fabric off the bolt would probably be $30 without the lining or pattern.

If you want to spend the money on the higher end of the supplies market, by all means go for it. It’s your money and your crafting time. The supplies are there for you to buy, but it’s a great thing that price points are so varied for supplies.  It’s lovely to use the high quality stuff, I get that.

Supplies Snobbery isn’t a thing I can get behind. Use what you love, even if it’s a second hand sheet or a bulk pack of cheap yarn. If it makes you happy, and making a thing makes you happy, then grab it and love it I say. I have, as you know, the last word on this subject.