Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Tortoistry


Finally, after the lovely half-term break, there is time to get back on with writing up the bag pattern which I was working on before the holidays - it seems to be taking an inordinately long time.

When I initially make something as a one-off I tend to construct it in the way which feels intuitive to me at the time, but I find turning it into a pattern normally involves a total rethink of the best ways in which to construct something: where to interface and reinforce; how to keep the layers to be sewn through to a minimum for machines which may not enjoy sewing through bulk; and ironing out the little idiosyncrasies in making something that feel fine if I'm making it for myself, but aren't necessarily how it feels right to instruct other people to work.


Once I've digitised (a curiously modern word, which I feel slightly odd using) the pattern pieces I always make up a pattern several (million) times before getting to the point where I'm happy with the instructions and feel ready to take the relevant photographs to illustrate each step. Really, it's like watching a tortoise work. Every element produces a strokey beard moment, the humming of my brain threatens to drown out the sound of my husband's music downstairs and just laying my head next to the iron-on interfacing may at times provide enough heat to fuse it to the fabric. But I feel oddly happy and cocoon-like in my tortoistry.


Finally, today I worked on the bag which will appear in the pattern's photographs, which makes the end feel a little closer. Happily, it was beautiful sunshine all day, so there was no English gloom to contend with.

When I've finally finished the bag pattern I'm planning a little spate of dressmaking. Having bought the Wiksten Tova PDF earlier in the year, last week I actually printed it out - it's sitting neatly in a pile and occasionally I catch sight of it and feel an excited sense of anticipation at the prospect of making it - I have never seen a bad or ill-fitting Tova, so I feel almost entirely optimistic about it (although I find dressmaking does require the spirit of an excited puppy at the outset of every new project - there's no way I'd be able to invest all those hours in making something if I thought it wouldn't look wonderful. A selective memory is required to blank out the times when things don't go to plan!). You may be interested to know - if you don't like downloads - that Alice has started stocking the Tova pattern at her online English shop. It's horribly expensive but I believe it is beautifully packaged and having seen that several people have made numerous versions, I think it probably ends up being good value for money if you're a smock top kind of girl.

Following that I'd like to make a wool jacket (Raystitch have some beautiful reversible wool which has caught my eye) to go with a grey and orange throat warmer my sister bought for me from Brora several years ago. Each year they produce a colour chart (several of which decorate the walls of our downstairs cloakroom) and that year they called their orange 'Pumpkin' which delights me almost as much as the Becca concealer in the colourway 'Praline' - the psychology of this is wonderful as it actually makes you feel quite lovely as you daub it over any blemishes.

I think often a name can very much influence how I feel about something - it took me a long time to accept that the 'Baked Cherry' on the Little Greene paint chart wasn't actually the right shade of red for our walls, I'd just fallen in love with the name. I'm still pondering on what to call my bag pattern.

Florence x

13 comments:

  1. I completely identified with the puppy-like enthusiasm, and the selective memory bit!! It's even worse in crochet, when hours and hours have been committed to a project before you realise 1) the yarn isn't as soft when it's crocheted up as you were anticipating or 2) the yarn colour darkens with the shadows created by tiny stitches, so what was a light fawn shade in its original ball form, suddenly becomes a muddy textured dirty sand shade in it's made-up form. Oh and 3) the item is too big/too small but you couldn't judge that at casting-on stage! Gorgeous bag design by the way. Wishing you a speedy conclusion to the pattern so you can commence some lovely dressmaking!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have to admit that I am impatiently waiting for the messenger bag pattern but take your time, Florence! I'm sure it's this "tortoistry" that makes your patterns so lovely!
    I don't know if there is a similar saying in English but where I live we say "the greatest joy is in the anticipation". And finally I can totally understand that you are somehow distracted by the Tova pattern - I can absolutely recommend it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm looking forward to both purchasing this messenger bag pattern as I loved your daughter's one. I am also looking forward to seeing your own version of the Tova top. I've been eyeing that up for several months (or quite a many, as my 3 year old would say) and have seen some really lovely ones. I think Kate (at M is for Make) is also stocking this pattern and yes, it is quite pricey but I think I might bite the bullet and buy it because it has been recommended by so many people as suitable for beginners. I haven't yet ventured into the daunting world of dress-making so it fills me with not a small amount of pleasure that something so lovely might be achievable by moi!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite a many - so sweet! I think a square yolk is actually quite a tricky thing for beginners, however, Kerry (Very Kerry Berry)did a complete run through of it, so I think that makes it entirely do-able as you'd have someone holding your hand throughout! Good luck!

      Delete
  4. I might be needing one of those messenger bags! Will it take a slightly-bigger-than-A4 bit of cello music, do you think?

    Hate to be a party pooper but there are some ill-fitting Tovas out there - mine is one of them! The inset hitches up while I'm wearing it. It's just a matter of making a slight FBA but I haven't ever done one so it's taking me a while to get round to it. Can't decide whether to just extend the arm holes a bit or do a proper FBA and add a dart. What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How funny - I'd completely forgotten the things you didn't like about yours as I loved the way it looked in the static photos so much that I rewrote it as a success in my head. Which size did you make? Could you go up a size or would the arms and general fit swamp you if you did that as you look quite tiny?

      I think the FBA is a tricky one in this case - from recollection the pattern doesn't have a dart and I think it's probably because it wouldn't work visually with the yolk that's already there. However, darts can be different lengths, so perhaps it you did quite a short dart and used a fabric that swallowed it up quite well (that really varies, in some fabrics they really do just seem to disappear, even unpatterned ones). I don't know whether extending the armholes would work as I've never got around a problem in that way.

      The pattern could have been drafted in two ways - it could be that Jenny drafted the top and then simply divided it up into sections of body and yolk to give pleasing style lines or it could be that she built a dart into the yolk when she drafted these sections. A dart can actually swing around anywhere - it doesn't have to be on the side seam and it's a really lovely way of disguising it in a style line while still giving the benefit of the space a dart creates. Whatever the original method of drafting, I guess you could build a dart into the yolk. The dart would exist only as a style line - so it would look exactly as it does now, but the fba would be hidden in the existing pattern pieces, however, that's something that would require a little more pattern drafting trickery than you may feel comfortable doing and I'm not sure I'm up to explaining how I'd go about doing this. I wonder if Jenny has covered any of this anywhere?

      Delete
  5. Aha, I've been waiting for pearls of wisdom to emerge from that course you took earlier in the year! And I have been wondering if I could add more fabric in the section between the armhole and the edge of the yoke somehow, which I guess is vaguely what you're suggesting. Jenny suggests the armhole method: http://www.flickr.com/groups/wikstenpatterns/discuss/72157625960508408/
    I made a small and I don't want much more space in the shoulders - I think a medium might just look too big. But I'm thinking of a Tova dress in fine babycord, and I'd want to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath, so maybe a medium would be better for that??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mmm, as a small person (you look similar - so I'm thinking this applies for both of us) I'm also against going up to the next size to compensate for a lack of material in one area as it ceases to flatter your frame and becomes a bit tent-like. Having read Sonia's comment below, I'm wondering whether you're right and just some armhole tweaking may be all that's needed as maybe it's a quirk of the pattern and will be something that lots of people find, rather than it needing a fba? Sonia may be better placed to answer that. I'm going to try and put the pattern pieces against something I've already made just in case I need to make this change too - thank you for the warning!

      Delete
  6. The bag pattern is looking great - from all the samples you've made I imagine you being buried under a load of labelled bags (in my head you're very organised and would have labelled each bag by it's version number!!!). Can't wait to see what you do with the Tova - I made one as my first top and love it and am already planning another (fabric purchased, I just need to Find Some TIme!). The only alteration I made was to lower the armstyce (if that's the right term?) by a 1/4" from the edge to the first marker as it felt a bit to snug when I first tried it on

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so helpful, Sonia (especially to Nina, above). Have you read of others doing this - I'm wondering whether it's one of those pattern quirks that makes it worth doing at the outset with both of you saying the same thing.

      Delete
    2. I *think* I may have read of a couple of other people making this change...I'm naughty and made the top straight off and tried it on before setting the sleeves in, and then decided to make the change. To Nina though, if I was going to make one out of babycord I might well be tempted to go up a size: I'm making a Lisette Portfolio tunic and because of the thickness of the fabric, and it's inherent stickiness it's a snugger fit than I imagined. Although it has slightly coincided with an increase in chocolate consumption..... :)

      Delete
    3. Well one does need some extra layers of padding in anticipation of coping with wintry weather.

      Yes, you're right - I've found that with cord too (unless it's stretch cord).

      I've never enjoyed setting the sleeves in last, so tend to attach the sleeve before sewing up the side seam as it feels a very simple process that way.

      Delete
    4. Thank you both for the advice! Will report back when I eventually get on to that project! Really looking forward to seeing your first Tova, Florence. x

      Delete

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x