The Magic of Stone (2): Hoodie Dress

And that’s it. The stone dress with elephants. Body armour for bad days.

Fake Pockets

fake elephant pockets
No. It’s not fake news, I cut out circles left and right to the waist and placed the lining in as design element and to make it look like pockets.

Of course it needed a hood.

Hood details with elephant lining
The lining for this dress is a maxi skirt I bought in ASDA. It looked horrible on me so I just cut it up, because I loved the elephants, and used it for lining.

and bell sleeves

I have a thing for bell sleeves
and as the original pattern’s arms were way too short for me anyway, I thought this was my chance to add some bell sleeves. I also placed more elephant lining into the bell part of the sleeve for a nice two colour effect.

Oh yes and sleeve extensions for long arms.

bell sleeves
You can see the sleeve has an extension just before the bell part. This was a mistake from my side I didn’t realise just how short the original pattern was, but it turned into a nice design element. I created the hood in such a way that it looks like a wide collar from front and the elephants create a visible contrast

Too short?

Do I need to make these dresses longer?
My friend today pointed out one of my dresses might be on the short side; and I realised they are mostly the same length. But I don’t want to look like my great-auntie either. Hm. Maybe adding a hand-width but keeping it above the knee? Length below the knee looks horrible on me, I tried that before.

It’s all about details

Adding little details brings everything together. It’s not quite straight though.

Sleeve details
I added some details to the dress

I am using the selvedge details as design element

selvedge details
The fabric has some really interesting selvedge details so I left it as it was and used it as design feature for the dress

The original pattern was a pullover.

I used a jumper pattern
and extended it with the French Curve. Hence the long darts that look like seams in the back, they came about during the final fitting.

The Magic of Stones (1)

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I always had an affinity for collecting stones; and so do several other members of my family. When I was a child my late dad would often take me to the nearby quarry, on the quest for interesting stones, which were carried there by the last ice age. I remember we found geodes, agate, all kinds of quart (the workers found two mammoth teeth in said quarry). He created an impressive rockery from the finds*.  My mom and I are particularly keen on worry stones, and the stones you find in the fields that show human impact, such as flint that was worked for blades. To my shamanic-self stones have ‘mana’ as much as the trees in our garden, or the deer passing by the kitchen window.

*It was like a stone rescue mission this way they did not become ground up into sand for cement

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In shamanic (in the widest sense of the definition) cultures objects, plants, animals can become sacred. Hierophany, is mainly determined by the shaman—apparently at random (Eliade, 1992). Shamanic cultures are not the only ones assigning sacred or spiritual meaning to stones. If you are more familiar with the bible, than anthropology, in Genesis 28:17 Jacob placed his head on a stone, had a dream (vision) of God and subsequently consecrated the stone. There are coronation stones representing rightful kingship, in a time where kings were still considered as ruling by divine right. Here in Scotland, in Kilmartin Glen—an area brimming with ancient history—we find standing stones, cup-stones, cairns and stone circles. If this stuff is too big for you: there are rune stones used for divination, and energy work, or healing crystals. So across the world, across times, across cultures, people have assigned the sacred or spiritual to stones.

I have a collection of pebbles from the coast, from rivers, and mountain tops. The sometimes smooth, sometimes sharp edges are calming and grounding. I made a dress (The Magic of Stones (2)) that has the colours of Scottish pebbles. When I wear it I think of our hikes, of the raven circling below, the smell of rain. On a bad day wearing this dress is grounding.

The lining of the dress are elephants, symbolizing inter alia strength, power and longevity.  So to me both the stones and elephants are symbols of permanence, of peacefulness. In stressful and chaotic times a dress which symbolizes permanence and strength can feel like wearing armor. And maybe somehow, when making my clothes, I sew into cloth my own sacred meaning—making a shamanic dress?**

**but this is a whole other story
elephant Washington Zoo
As far as I remember this was in Washington (DC) Zoo. And I thought this is probably the happiest elephant I have ever seen.

I see you still have your eyebrows raised. Go look at the first two photos in this post, as a keen hiker, I encounter people building small cairns, on tops of mountains, at holy wells, at ancient sacred places, or somewhere in the middle of the woods. Every time I pass one of these constructions I wonder what compels us to participate in their creation. Yes, on top of mountains they are likely a mark of achievement, but the two I posted above were in Kilmartin Glen and the other at Lindisfarn Castle (Holy Isle). Are they more than simply a tourist activity? Maybe we have the urge for a shared history—a shared narrative? For acknowledgement that ‘I was there’, ‘I belong’, with the tribe of everyone who was there before me, and who will come after? Maybe it is a silent prayer? An offering, acknowledgement to something we cannot craps? Maybe it symbolizes our want for something that is bigger than just our selves? A collective self? And we participate in this small ritual, and maybe all it does is make us smile for a moment, and pause for a moment, and hold silence, before the mobile phone buzzes again. But for me, my stones are mnemonics with mana.

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Vintage Magic

It all Began with this Gorgeous Fabric

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I ordered some and then tried to come up with a design that would work. As I am not yet able to create my own patterns I had to dig a bit deeper than usual and found the Butterick B6242 vintage reprint.

Don’t Judge Yourself by a Number

One of the soul-destroying and confidence-killing things when working with vintage patterns in the size numbers do not add up. So according to my measurements I would have been I think somewhere in the region of size 24 or so for this pattern. So I dutifully did calculations, and luckily ran a test pattern on an old piece of cotton. … I was still size 12-14! Even in the vintage sizing. I used the measurements on the back of the pack to calculate my size but the actual measurements in reality came to a different size. It was very strange.

Well one thing I want you to pay attention to. Have a look at the graphic of this pattern:

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Did you notice that the width of the face is the same width as the waist! Now try to imagine this ratio in real life.

I went through a fat-and-ugly-moment and then continued creating the dress.

The first iteration though wasn’t quite right, without a zipper the waist was not tight enough to create the hourglass effect this pattern is supposed to work on, and keeping the fabric and lining at the same length simply creates this weird effect that makes one look much larger. Also the top bit was not sitting properly. So I took scissors and cut off the hemming disconnecting fabric from lining again, took in a good two inches on both sides at the waist and inserted a zipper.

I hate inserting zippers! This is my sewing Achilles heel! So I tried an invisible zipper as I had to sew it in top fabric down and the top fabric is stretchy gauze the zipper was too close to the top fabric and constantly became stuck. Now I took it out again (luckily before taking in the dress for it’s final measure) and inserted a normal zipper. The next step was to carefully hand-stitch the fabric over the zipper without it constantly becoming caught but making the zipper less obvious.

Another challenging part was the waist band for this dress. You need to take care to stretch the top material really tight for the ruffled effect, but also to ensure it won’t hang loosely. So I ruffled it and then pinned one side tight, pulling the top fabric as much as possible while stitching it to the lining.

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Last but not least I cut the skirt lining about 25 cm shorter than the fabric, this already created the petticoat effect I had hoped for but I also bought an actual petticoat to wear underneath.

The Final Dress

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Anyways. I am fairly happy with the outcome. As usual there a quite a lot of things that could have been done better, but I think they might not be too obvious with this statement dress.

Never Ever Again: The Wrap Dress

All I wanted was a twirling dress.

‘You are what?’
‘I am making a wrap dress.’
‘I have tried this once; never ever again.’ Unfortunately when I had this conversation with mum I was already in the middle of the experiment. After all the pattern does look nice.IMG_20180901_194525-01

And it is a Simplicity Pattern so what could go wrong—right? I love them. They always work.

I think you need way more experience and understanding of how patterns work than I had at the time. Apparently wrap-dresses are notoriously difficult to fit, it was either too loose or too wide in all the wrong places, and I could not figure out why it wouldn’t work. Never ever had I ever had such problems with fitting. Did I say never?

Little fixes

To make it fit and stay in place I inserted a hidden zipper underneath the back-decorative hemming, and the frog buttons are not symmetrically in their distance because they cover fitting sins and hide the bobbles from my fitting problems.

The Obi Belt

So after some botched-job fixes—just don’t look too closely or into the inside of the dress—the result was still not quite what I wanted it to be. As there were already frog buttons I decided to add an obi-style belt to it. So ensure it keeps its shape I inserted extra strong lining into the wide area of the belt.

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So without much further ado some detailed shots … AND … the one thing that made all the fuzz worthwhile: The twirl!

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The Twirl

I have created an Instagram account that goes with this blog but still need to transfer media across.

Making a Knitting Bucket

Sewing for knitting

This is my first time trying to write sewing instructions for something. Let me know what you think and how helpful they were. Or where you still have questions.

The light grey one was my prototype this is why it still looks a bit disheveled. The darker grey one I used the patter. Also the textile I used was heavy Ikea curtains. I had to shorten these to fit our windows and wanted to make something with the off-cuts.

Tip: If you want to give your knitting bucket a bit more stability to can iron on some heavy weight interfacing to one or two of the wrapping panels.

I am adding a link to the pdf so you can download the document and print the instructions. Otherwise these are the steps for making the bucket.

You Need

Outer Wrap
Length: 69 cm
Height 39 cm
Inner Wrap
Length: 63 cm
Height: 39 cm

Length for all pockets: 69 cm
Height first layer: 31 cm
Height second layer: 11 cm

1 cm seam allowance

Assembly

  1. Hem all pieces of fabric once you have cut them.
  2. If you want to decorate the pockets with vintage lace as in the example don’t forget to cut two strips of 69 cm long lace.
  3. Sew on the lace before you stitch the pockets.
  4. Stitch the pockets before assembling the bucket.
  5. Begin with the first layer (31 cm) pockets
    1. Depending on your needs draw lines for long knitting needles so you can sort them according to size (see picture below)
    2. I also added two 5 cm wide pockets for bigger items

      (c) Nathalie Sheridan
      making pockets
  6. Then place the second layer of of fabric for the small pockets on top of it, before stitching it together, mark out the seams for the pockets and make sure you do stitch exactly on the lines of the other pockets or just leave a space there
  7. Once you have stitched all the pockets take the inner bottom (page 3) and fix it to the inner wrap, outsides facing inwards (see picture below).

    (c) Nathalie Sheridan
    Base
  8. Make small incisions around the seam-allowance of the base to ease curvage of material
  9. Repeat for outer wrap
  10. Sew the long edged of the wrapper
  11. Now you have two buckets
  12. Leave the inner (smaller) bucket with the outside facing material into the inside
  13. Turn the outer bucket so that the pockets face outwards
  14. Place smaller bucket into the bigger one
  15. Use the top hem-allowance to fold seams into the inside and then carefully top-stitch
  16. You could also use decorative bias binding to stitch these together

Your Free PDF Download

Download Knitting Bucket Pattern and Instructions PDF

Vintage Art Nouveau Style Fabric

Making the NewLook 3641 Pattern

my way …

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The fabric used for this dress is one of the vintage ones I mentioned in the previous post. Whilst it is not actual Art Nouveau the design is very much reflecting the continental Art Nouveau designs I love so much. Finding the right pattern for it took a while. As I mentioned before there is only so much fabric I have from mom’s stash so I had to find a pattern that would allow me to show off the pattern as best as possible yet wouldn’t use a vast amount to fabric.

NewLook 3641 seemed to be the best fit. There were several reasons for this choice: I had barely two meter of fabric, therefore I needed a pattern where pattern matching would not be too much of an issue. If you notice I managed to align two of the figures front centre of the dress but the rest is not pattern matched.

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The advantage was that the pattern of the fabric had the main design character alternating head-up or head-down, which meant I could use the fabric most efficiently. Further, I wanted a dress with pockets, and one that would lend itself to lining, as the fabric is very thin and fairly transparent. And look at that gorgeous lining I managed to obtain from the left-over bin at Mandors here in Glasgow.

So there are some tips and tricks on how to sew on the lining. The best way is to sew two independent dressed and then put them together outsides facing, leave the bottom open you can hem this fairly easy or even sew bias tape around.

However, if you need a bit more control between the layers of top fabric and lining I would recommend to sew the panels together. This is what I did with my dress as the top-fabric would otherwise not stay in shape. There is a trick to how to make the seam across the shoulders where front and back come together nice.

For putting the shoulder straps together. Leave the seams between the lining and the top-fabric open, fold the fabric and lining into the shoulder strap, by width of seam allowance, and iron into place. Then move the front strap into the created ‘pipe’ again by width of seam-allowance and then carefully top stitch it together.

While I love dresses with pockets, or skirts, trousers, any item of clothing with pockets. I really don’t like making them they are so fiddly and I still haven’t entirely gotten the hang of it. BUT! I finally hacked the invisible zipper! Which, until this dress, has been the bane of my sewist-existence.

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I can highly recommend this pattern. It is a very comfortable fit, easy to wear. You can dress it up or down and it has pockets. (Just in case I haven’t told you about the pockets yet.) I still consider myself a beginner when it comes to sewing and this pattern was really easy to follow. If you pay close attention you can see the pink iron-away textile marker guides on the fabric. As long as you make sure you stick to these the dress will come out really well.

I tweaked the pattern a bit and changed the straight line front hem into the curved front and added curved hem to the back as well. With the type of fabric I used it provided nicer movement and fit.

Getting Rid of Smell in Vintage Fabric

Last year my mom send me a huge pile of vintage fabrics, after the first excitement I noticed two problems. One was that they came in varied and non-standard lengths, and the other problem was a very musty old smell that still hung in the cloth even after two washing cycles with disinfectant.

Tips against smelly vintage fabric

The internet of things had various suggestions for treating the musty old smell of vintage garments. Two seem to be the most effective.

Vodka and Vinegar.

Vinegar

I soaked the fabric for two nights in my bathtub. Fill the tub with cold (or warm) water and then pour 1 liter of clear vinegar into it (like pickling vinegar or simple white vinegar). Avoid any dark vinegar to prevent discoloration. Depending on how bleach safe the colour of the fabric is you can make the solution much stronger (e.i. add more vinegar).

It is usually recommended to test on a small piece of fabric if the fabric can handle the vinegar treatment and doesn’t bleach.

Vodka

Vodka or for that matter any form of clear alcohol (Schnaps). Pour the alcohol into a spray bottle and spray the fabric with it. Then let it air out. Repeat as necessary.

After the Vinegar or Vodka treatment you still might want to wash the garment or fabric with disinfectant. The smell entirely left my fabrics and I could enjoy sewing with it and more importantly wearing it.

BBQ Season Experiments 01

BBQ and Stir Fry

As BBQ season is in full swing we decided to begin experimenting with our spherically shaped grill. The first experiment was to make a stir fry. A while ago I bought a cast iron wok with a long wooden handle. I also have an olive wood spoon which is at least a hand-width longer than normal kitchen spoons—you need both! The long handled wog and the somewhat longer spoon because:

It’s hot, hot, hot!

And this is the point. Even on the large centre flame on top of our gas stove the heat is just not strong enough for a proper stir fry. So prepare the coals as you would normally do (in hindsight you only need half the amount) once you have the glowing embers, pour some oil in the wok and then place the wok directly into the embers. If you trust your fine motor skills by all means pour the oil into the wok once you placed it onto the flames.

I am super clumsy and accident prone so not an option for me. Health and safety people!

Anyhow, ones you can hear the oil sizzle throw in the meat (unless you are vegetarian obviously throw in the veggies). So the wok became so hot I had to occasionally take it off the fire and shake.

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I so felt like master chef! Check that wrist action!

Tip: everything cooks so quickly you do not need a lot of oil. The Alpha poured half a cup into the wok, I had to pour most of it onto the ground. Anyhow, once the meat is browned (but not yet fully cooked) throw in the veggies, proceed the stirring and/or wrist action shaking, for 2-3 minutes and then throw in the noodles/rice, repeat the wrist action and stirring again until the noodles feel hot to the touch and then add sauce, mix everything thoroughly. And serve.

edf

 

 

Potato Soup

Ingredients

For Preparation 01
1,5 liter water
750 gr potatoes
250 gr soup vegetable (carrot, leek, celery)
For Preparation 02
2 onions
Olive oil
For Preparation 03
Fresh Parsley

Preparation

Peel and cut veggies (preparation 01) and boil in water
Add salt to taste

Peel and cut onions (preparation 02)
Fry until browned

Once veggies are soft puree with blender (or mash through fine metal sieve)
Add onion and fresh parsley to decorate

My favourite (not-vegan) variation

If you need some more protein
I like warming Wiener sausages (hot dog sausage) in the soup (once the blending bid if over) and eat it with the sausages
Also I usually stir half a teaspoon of mustard into my soup

Best Cleaning Product Ever

This is my not so secret super-power cleaning product. Environmentally friendly, makes use of everyday household items and it’s really cheap.

If you need the super power cleaner:

Use household soda (or baking powder) and add vinegar (e.g.: white, wine or malt vinegar) until it creates a thick paste.

Milder version

Add soda and vinegar to warm water, or you can replace the vinegar with lemon or even orange juice. (Filter the pulp out though.)

Rub it onto the surfaces that need cleaning, if need be use a brush, wash off with warm water.

It gets easily rid off mildew, and residue that settles on bathroom tiles, of dirt in the bathtub, and whitens grout again. It even cleans the grime on top of kitchen cupboards!

A plus point vinegar is a natural odor-neutralizer once the vinegar smell has evaporated so will the other smells as well. A while back I bought a cupboard from a drift-shop and it came from a smoker’s home. Needless to say the stench was unbearable. I washed it with warm vinegar water and placed a bowl of pure vinegar in it. It was so bad I had to renew the vinegar twice after that but then the smell was completely gone.

Vinegar also works as a disinfectant, so it’s a good cleaner to use on kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

Mind you: vinegar and soda mixed reacts fairly volatile as you are mixing an acid with a alkali. So do only fill the bowl you use to create the mix to a quarter or it runs over like lava.