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My overlocker is evil

My overlocker is evil. Not David Berkowitz evil, but evil just the same. More like Jack Nicolson’s character in A Few Good Men; a fastidious pain in the butt. After I carefully tied the threads so I could avoid re-threading the overlocker, the said beast snapped the thread in the lower looper.

After cursing subsided I got the overlocker working and was able to progress. There were a few more hurdles along the way; unpicking the wrong sleeve and running out of bobbin chief among them. However today the sleeves finally went in and I’m delighted. I’ve hung it in the wardrobe to let it drop for a week before I tackle the hem.

Made from original 1940 Simplicity Pattern 3459

I was so happy that I used the flurry of energy that followed to revisit an old friend. I’ve been working on this overcoat since… well, I don’t actually remember. Is it one year, or two? Either way, I am determined to finish it before this winter. Yes 2012’s winter.

The reason it is taking so long is the cornelli work on the upper part of the collar. I’m completing it in gold-bronze coloured deco thread. It’s in the bobbin with ordinary cotton on the top, so it’s sewn upsidedown following a template I hand-drew on stitch and tear. The lines below took me about 1 1/2 hours to complete. It is it not quite an inch wide.

Cornelli work - deco thread on brown wool

At that pace, it is little surprise that it’s been a multi-year work in progress. I shall see how long this new found energy stays. It is going to be a big week. I get the joyous task of trying to look after 4 cats in a one bedroom unit for a fortnight. The two old girls – Licorice and Saffron (the latter pictured below assisting with sewing the collar) and the two ‘bounce-off-the-walls’ boys – Pickle and Gesso. I know from past experience that the Pickle – the ginger ninja – is not well loved by Licorice and Saffron. They view this spirited adolescent with contempt. Only a mad man would expend that much energy going from one side of the room to the other. Yet this time, it may be Pickle doing the sneering as Licorice and Saffron will be on his turf.

Saffron and the half finished collar

The plan is segregation. The old girls get the bedroom and the indefatigable lads get the living room. I have to go between the two dishing out reassurance that all is well with the world; the usual cranky, funny two-wheeled owner will be back shortly. I have arranged with work to only be at work ever second day so I can be home to play umpire. This may seem extreme however in the context of Saffron’s FIC (feline idiopathic cystitis), it’s far less stressful to take a couple of days annual leave than to have a trip to the vet.

It’s also a big week as I’m starting on liteneasy. I’m not sure that I will take to this regime easily as I’m a fussy eater. Yet I’m willing to give it a shot. It will be a lot easier than trying to cook meals in between emptying litter trays for 4 cats! It may be a very quiet week on the blogging front; or a very busy one depending on the antics of the boys and girls.

The sprightly boys

And the not so sprightly girls


71 years and counting

1940 dress in progress

Simplicity dress pattern 1940. Sleeves still to be added.

It’s official. It will be 2012 before this 1940 dress is complete. Sleeves appearing this side of Christmas? Not likely. Self-facing the neck line by next Saturday? Yeah, right!

In between now and Christmas Eve, I have 5 days of Santa avoidance to complete. 3 whole days and 2 half days in the office dodging Christmas cheer in order to finish work I need to complete in 2011. As such I doubt that I’ll be coming home to sew!

The centre yoke piece on this 1940 Simplicity pattern is what attracted me to it. It rises up to create a diamond shape under the bust and below the waist forms an upside V. (It’s most easily seen in the drawing on the pattern picture below).

The under bust piece, inclusive of the gathers, was actually very easy. The pleats in the skirt, a snack. Getting the bottom of that yoke attached to the skirt part and to line up with the yoke piece at the back – a real challenge. The original Simplicity pattern recommends to join the centre yoke and back yoke first. I can see the advantage in that approach – after the fact. It seemed, at the time, worth giving up having the yoke attached in order to avoid the fiddling at the sides. In the end, it’s a line ball call on what is easier. Quite simply, this style of pattern on a sheer fabric (which the pattern suggests), is a recipe for unpicking! Even with interfacing in that centre panel, the piece moves as quick as John Travolta’s hips in Grease.
2 dresses in one

1940 dress in progress - back viewIf any vintage junkies out there are considering this style of 1940s dress, I urge you to ignore the pattern (Simplicity, my foot!) and go with cotton! True, it won’t fall as beautifully as the sheer however you’ll escape the need for a slip and a few hundred expletives. Your unpicker will thank you as well. Mine has removed the zip twice before I let it off the hook with a case of third time lucky.

Finished dress in the new year I hope!

Behind the times

I must remember to adjust my wristwatch to daylight savings time. In this digital age, every other appliance seems to have adjusted the time for me. Then again, being an hour behind probably won’t matter to much. I’m 70 years behind on my clothing!

2 dresses in one

This is my next sewing project. The plan is to make a black slip and then two dresses out of these sheer floral fabrics. I had wanted to use cotton sateen, also known as polished cotton, for the slip. I’ve made slips from this previously (to sleep in) and they have a lovely feel. Unfortunately obtaining black is a wee bit tricky! I bought a georgette instead but I’m not convinced that it will work. I’ll have to check with my sewing master.

As for the top part, I’m confident that these fabrics will look lovely. The black one on the right I bought at a vintage show (although the seller was honest enough to tell me that it wasn’t actually an old piece of fabric – just an old look!). At the same show I bought a piece of unused 1940s black crepe. I’m saving that for a special piece. The brown print I bought on the left yesterday. Wedding_2009_0_24 054_sIt reminds me of the ao dai (Vietnamese traditional dress) Thienhuong’s family gave me for her wedding. The flowers on the ao dai are far prettier than on this fabric but given all those ‘soft pleats’ I don’t think it will matter. I’m intending to use a ‘cross’ of the pattern on the left and the one on the right. I don’t want the puffy short sleeves which are on the left and I’m not fussed on the large collar. That said, while pretty, that high ‘boat’ neck would look silly on me. (I’d look like a giraffe in a floral print) In the end it will probably be more like the one on the left but with more subtle sleeves and a small turn back collar. I have some calico to make a sample bodice which I hope to cut the pieces for this weekend. Of course this depends on whether Saffron and Licorice choose to assist with the fabric. The last time I cut something at home, Licorice curled up in one end of the fabric which was draping off the end of the cutting table. It took me some time to realise she was there… I just couldn’t fathom why the fabric wouldn’t slide across the table.
Cat assistance aside, I shouldn’t really be cutting fabric, I should be tidying as I have guests coming next Saturday. Well, actually, I’m not ‘the host’. Andrew and I were invited to dinner at a friends house. They have a lovely single storey old style house. Unfortunately that means it comes with a small bathroom with a narrow door which Andrew can’t access. When I told my friend that Andrew couldn’t make it but I could come, she and her husband offered to cook all the food and bring it over the my place. I now just have to clear enough art and sewing stuff out of the way to set-up the table. At least I don’t have a Pickle cat in permanent residence on my table like this one…
My table II
…although Licorice did some table top dancing last time we dined.

A drawer of treasures

2008 girl seeks April 1940 pattern! I love the waistline on this dress from April 1940 edition of Australian Home Journal. My sewing teacher took one look at it and said she wouldn’t like to be drafting a pattern with that waistline but if I could find a pattern no problem. All I need now is some meticulous¬†collector who has every sewing pattern that Australian Home Journal ever sold and I’ll be right!