Sheep top time: a project from the 2016 vortex

Now, well done if you remember that I had started working on dress ‘R’ from the first Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori back at the end of 2015.  I had two metres of birthday sheep fabric that was absolutely adorable and remarkably calming.  It’s such a crisp print but the colours are so neutral and muted that it doesn’t have the mad knitter impact that it might with breed specific sheep illustrations.

Margaret's sewing room. Watched over by the headless bear!
Margaret’s sewing room. Watched over by the headless bear! Sadly the bear remains headless. Margaret was waiting for cataract operations all last year. One eye mending one to go…

The pattern was cut out in Aberdeen just after Christmas but with the excitement of the Boy’s new job in Dundee and the mixed blessing of alternate weekends visiting eachother it remained a WIP until I had moved down to Dundee myself.  It travelled in bits but escaped the fate of perpetual WIP coming out to be finished in time to be worn over the summer (to the extent that there is such a season north of the wall).

Sundee! 'Oor lovely Wullie on his bucket trail. This is the only pic I seem to have of this top. I really enjoyed the bucket trail event and most of the photos of me from last year have a 'Wullie' in them.
Sundee! ‘Oor lovely Wullie on his bucket trail. This is the only pic I seem to have of this top ‘in action’. I really enjoyed the bucket trail event and most of the photos of me from last year have a ‘Wullie’ in them. (btw I’m sure I had ironed the shirt before putting it on)

I did something which is becoming a habit on this project and didn’t cut out the sleeves/bias binding with the main pieces because I wasn’t sure that I wanted them.  The medium weight quilting cotton turned out to be quite stiff (and lampshade-esque?) and could probably have done with being used on a pattern with a little more structure.  Now.  I think I need to start some kind of tablet engraved with things I am learning in my make it up as you go along adventures in sewing.  You cannot just leave the sleeves off when making up a pattern without adjusting the arm holes first.  And the companion law: you can’t just add sleeves onto a sleeveless garment without adding extra ease.  A good pattern should be leaving plenty of room for swinging your arms about – particularly if it is designed for woven fabrics.  This ease translates into a gaping armhole.  It’s actually not too bad in this top but it is not something I considered at all until I wore the thing and read some things on pattern adjustment later.

Disorganised Dundee Sewing desk chaos. Also check out the gaping across the front. Hmmm...
Disorganised Dundee Sewing desk chaos. Also check out the gaping across the front. Hmmm…

The more problematic issue is that I forgot to clip my armhole seams when affixing the bias binding.  I was so focused on lovely neat topstitching and getting the seam line straight and then bloody forgot the clipping.  These bindings stick out straight and awkwardly.  I try to keep them under my cardi but it’s quite hard to get them to stay put.  I’m starting to think that this might be because at the shoulder I really need to go down a size and perform an adjustment to increase the full bust measurement.  Even looking at my very snug ‘T’ dress I think I’m seeing the shoulder seam extending too far out.

I still LOVE this batik print. This collar works its charms even if it is a touch too big for my shoulders.

I’m starting to open my eyes to the problems in these garments I’m making and thinking about ready to wear problems I often encounter (somehow it’s so easy to blame yourself without understanding the cause – but if you don’t do any adjustments then a home sewn garment will obviously have the same problems as ready to wear).  Too big shoulder v.s. too tight bust dilemma.  The puffed out hips v.s. too tight waist band.  And just forget finding a dress that will fit unless it’s made of bias draped knit fabric.  The attraction of these Japanese tunic style smocks and frocks is that I only need to match one measurement but I’m starting to think that something is off.  If standard UK pattern companies draft for a ‘B’ cup then it may be the case that these are drafted even smaller and once they are graded up to the largest size there is going to be some impact on the frame.  I have the anxiety with size that makes me blind to the possibility that these patterns could be too big for me.  But the too big AND too small at the same time is a common problem I experience (my absurd work shirt that seemed to be falling off and wouldn’t do up all the way down) – and this is even more infuriating than just being too small.  There’s nowhere to go.

This week I’ve been trying to adjust the Emery fit and flare dress.  I originally drafted the size 14 with an FBA but then lost my nerve and did a smaller FBA on the 16 and began my toile.  I was worried about grading out more than one size on the waist.  Should have gone with the instinct!  The shoulders and back are ridiculous (there is a LOT of ease in this garment as it is a lined dress for woven fabrics) but it’s the shoulders I needed to get right first.

So I’ve spent an afternoon sewing and it’s back to the drawing board.  It’s good I’ve got a few metres of calico hanging about.  But if this goes on much longer it’ll be down to the charity shop for old curtains and bedsheets.


One thought on “Sheep top time: a project from the 2016 vortex

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

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