Wednesday, August 28, 2019


The Wikipedia definition of "upcycling" is:

also known as creative reuse, ... the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value.

This project qualifies.

Original object
The fabric started its life as a rather lovely pure linen flat bedsheet. I think it was a double bed size. My husband, consummate thrift shopper that he is, spotted it as a good quality item of potential use in the sewing room. The prize feature is the white on white embroidery and deep hem.

It had been used and was not in perfect condition. I spotted a couple of small holes and in one spot the faggoting between the hem and the main body of the sheet was ripped. However there was plenty left for my purposes.

I previously made the Inari Tee Dress pattern as a dress from fabric with a heavily embroidered border and I figured I could do it again, but this time as a top.

There was one thing I did not love about the dress and that is that it tends to ride up and back as I wear it. This means the neck in front feels like it's going to choke me and the whole dress angles towards the front at the hem, instead of staying vertical like it should.

I did a bit of superficial web research and looked in some books and asked on FB forums and everybody said that all I needed to do was take a slice off the front shoulder and add it to the back. This would put the shoulder seams in the "right place". But (thought I) it would not solve my problem which seemed to me to be that the upper back was too short as a result of anatomy and poor posture. As I hunch away at my desk my curved back steals fabric from the front and this is why the thing shifts on my shoulders.

So instead I sliced through the back and added 8mm of length and then I added a little wedge in the sleeve cap to make it a bit longer, as you can see at left.

I'm pleased to say this worked perfectly. I wore the top today and it did not shift around during the day. It feels more comfortable.

The boxy shape is cool and comfy. I cut the top longer than the pattern says. I wanted it to hit me at the hip bone approximately and at 51cm from shoulder point to hem, it is probably about 4-5cm longer than it would have been if I had cut where the pattern directed. 

The embroidery makes this top special, and I didn't have to do a thing to get it! I left a little slit opening at the side seams.

It's a new silhouette for me. I think it looks OK with these wide cropped pants.

I wore it today with very wide linen pants and got a few nice comments.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Making home dec fabric with my knitting machine

If you have a knitting machine that can do patterning (punch card or electronic) you can probably make fabric like this. The technique is called "knitweave" and you can use yarn that is much too thick for the knitting machine for the face of the fabric.

I made the fabric for these cushions (which, BTW were not designed to be placed on the red upholstery in the photo) using a thin acrylic yarn from Michael's (Woolike) for the base. In the cushion on the left I used 3 strands of Woolike in different colours for the face but in the one on the right, I used Lopi which is a bulky wool yarn.

Making this fabric couldn't be easier than it was on my Brother 892 punch card machine. I punched a card from the Harmony Guide to Machine Knitting Stitches (a great resource). The Brother machine selects the needles ahead of knitting the row (as you can see at right) and it was a simple matter to lay the face yarn over the selected needles and just knit across.

I'm fascinated by the fabric this makes. It is very thick and stable across the width (since the face yarn is mostly laid straight, not knitted) but stretchy in the length. I'm sure I could make fabric for a very warm jacket...

At left is another piece I knitted with a different card, showing the colours of my Mom's couch upholstery.

Extreme close up


This lovely and very beefy cotton waffle fabric is now partly out of my stash and has been turned into a pristine white robe.

Naturally, I only finished making this once the outdoor pool-swimming summer session ended (after a 6AM outdoor swim it is lovely to wrap yourself in a nice towelly robe). However I expect there will be more outdoor swimming in my future, and this robe will last for years as the fabric is a really great quality. Also, since when would a kimono-style robe ever go out of style?

The pattern is (natch) another Jalie, the Mélanie robe. I bought it last year at PR Weekend since there were a few of these present and they looked nice and easy to wear. However there are not many reviews on Pattern Review. I'm not sure why...

This pattern was intended for much softer and possibly drapier fabrics such as challis, crepe and satin so my thick and somewhat stiff waffle weave outfit is not quite performing as intended. I made this because I wanted a nice bathrobe, but also to see if I would like the pattern (more in a jacket length) for the double weave cotton I bought in Tokyo. I'm still thinking about it.

This robe is really easy and very quick to make. The only confusing part was sorting out which long skinny rectangles I needed to trace for the collar and belt. This was only confusing because they are the same printed piece on the pattern sheet and it wasn't immediately clear which one was which, or how many I needed to cut.

For your information, in your fabric you need one collar piece and two belt pieces. The collar pattern piece is the LONGER one (on the pattern sheet) but of course once you sew the two belt pieces together, the belt is longer than the collar. Clear as mud? Maybe a picture (left) is worth a thousand words.

Once you muddle through, the collar is precisely the right length to fit the neck, and the belt is good and long for tying in various ways.

What next?

I haven't been sewing much in August, because I haven't been at home. It has been great to see friends but I'm feeling the need for time to make stuff!

While I think about it, enjoy this photo of the Three Sisters that I took in Canmore, Alberta.