Saturday, 18 June 2016

A Stripy Grey Top and a Squirrel's Nut Pile

Handmade Grey Stripy Top

I was sent this fabric a few weeks ago by my lovely blog sponsor, Girl Charlee, after much debate about the virtues of different fabrics in relation to retaining one's modesty (i.e. one's bra not being entirely visible through it).


In the end, they sent a few different samples of stripy greys over (Girl Charlee have so many knit fabrics that they actually have multiple varieties of grey stripes!) for me to choose from. Jen liked my original choice, the super sheer stripe on the left hand side, while Mark felt the slightly thicker knit jersey on the right may be more versatile (which led to some merriment over whether I would align myself with the exhibitionist or the prude!). In the end, I requested some of more demure jersey on the right and thought about drafting a habit to wear in the nunnery, while Mark filled me in on an exciting new line of lead fabric sheets they're soon to be releasing due to customer demand - apparently they're not overly drapey and require a welding torch and hammer rather than needle and thread, but they do cover all modesty! For colourways, they're anticipating stocking grey, dull grey, anthracite and original lead. But in reality, while my final choice is definitely comparatively less sheer, it's still actually an incredibly fine fabric!

Handmade Grey Stripy Top

But ridiculousness aside, buying dressmaking fabric over the internet can be so tricky and it's a total delight that Girl Charlee are so willing to talk through whether a fabric might be exactly as I'm imagining it to be, if it will be right for an intended project and suggesting alternatives just in case it isn't.

Anyway, onto the actual fabric. This fabric is a real surprise. It looks almost identical to this fabric in terms of weight and sheerness, even though it isn't a slub, but the feel is like no other jersey I've ever felt. It is the softest jersey imaginable. It feels like the kind of thing that you'd wrap babies in. It looks like respectable daywear, but I secretly feeling like I'm going out in pyjamas each time I wear this top because it's just so ridiculously soft. It also retains the smell of fabric softener more than any other fabric I've ever known (dressmaking gives a perfect comparison place for this as, like most dressmakers, I prewash all my fabrics before cutting into them to avoid the finished garment suffering first-wash-shrinkage), which caused me to keep burying my face in it while I was sewing this. Fabric softener is one of my favourite smells - it smells like care, comfort and warmth all at the same time and possibly also has underlying connotations for me of momentarily being at the high point in the never-ending laundry cycle.

Which makes me suddenly want to ask (the point of my asking this comes much later in the paragraph - there is actually a link, even if you can't work out what it is yet) if you have a subconsciously collated file in your brain of nice things people have said to you over your lifetime - perhaps more passing asides than intentional compliments? What I love so much about them being unintentional compliments is that they're even more valuable because the accidental compliment-giver says the thing with little thought, not intending to flatter particularly. It just happens that their comment strikes a chord with a value or trait that delights you more than they'd imagine. And so you can quietly squirrel the compliment away in a nut pile without any awkward blushing or embarrassment. That this would count as one of those nuts possibly makes me odd (you've finally got to the link), but over a decade ago, when I sold some of my then-toddler's clothes on eBay, the buyer reviewed the transaction commenting only on how amazing the clothes had smelt when she unpackaged them and then sent a message asking which washing powder I used. For some reason a stranger at the other end of the country thinking that our clothes smelt nice made me feel really happy. I can actually think of two other nuts in the pile involving smell, but only because I'm thinking about it. The other nice thing about this particular filing cabinet is that I can't remember a single other thing in it as contents from it reappear through word association just as unexpectedly as the original compliment did. If you were just able to rummage around in there and see them in a great big list, I think they'd cease to feel so special. I would love to know if anyone has a similar mental filing cabinet. I would also really love to know what's in it, but appreciate people may not want to share their nuts; I feel quite protective of mine too, which is why I'm revealing only one of the scent-related compliments.

Handmade Grey Stripy Top

So, having quickly detoured around a squirrel, eBay, communications from the North of England and the random contents of my head, the one thing that I'd change about this top is that for some reason I did a far narrower hem than my usual chunky 1" turn up and I'm not so keen on this as it looks a bit less 'finished' to me. I often seem to do this during dressmaking: that is make some small, random change that later perplexes me as to why I might have done it.

Florence x

Ps. You can get 10% off fabrics at Girl Charlee using the code 'Flossie'.

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14 comments:

  1. I must say I've never understood fabric conditioner, but that might be because I'm allergic to it - so to me it smells only of an impending asthma attack! Question, though: do you wear perfume, and if so is it sort of competing with a separate scent from your clothes? Another lovely top you've made - your you-made wardrobe is so tasteful. Especially like the neckline. I'm very embarrassed to have to credit Trinny & Susannah with this piece of knowledge, but the secret to bra invisibility is skin-coloured bras. First time I tried a white t-shirt on over one I was amazed. x

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    1. Also your hair looks really nice in these pics! x

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    2. That's such a shame - I'd find that really hard. Well, I always think fabric softener wears off within about half an hour of wearing - it's more while you're folding the clothes that it really smells amazing. So, I don't think my perfume and fabric conditioner are competing (I wear Laura Mercier's Creme Brûlée, which smells like warm vanilla-y deliciousness to my nose). Can you have more natural essential oil based scents or are you a totally scent-free zone?

      Thank you! I tend to wear skin coloured bras and completely agree and remember having the same 'wow' moment when I tried it for the first time (although I have a white and silver one on under this top). However, I recently read something somewhere (I can't remember quite where - maybe on The Pool*) about french women making a feature of their underwear and it being an addition to an outfit rather than something you try to hide away and I feel quite enthusiastic about embracing that, so while I wouldn't wear a fuchsia bra under a white top, if I was wearing a navy vest top with thin spaghetti straps then I might wear a fuchsia bra (the chances of that actually ever being visible though are remote though as I'm always cold and also don't want to get a tan, so tend to wear really thin cardigans even in warmer weather. However, I'd know and that's the important bit - a bit like having a brightly coloured lining in a coat.

      *Do you read The Pool by the way? I really like it and think you might too - it's the only women's magazine where they're actually nice about other women and talk about things that actually matter, but there's also a healthy dose of clothes and make up too (although not with an organic/ethically aware focus to it, so that bit may well not appeal to you). I hope you're having a lovely weekend whatever you're up to. x




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    3. Oh and thank you re my hair. Weirdly, by the end of the day my hair seems to have lost the just-washed-and-a-bit-more-slippery feel and I can just fold the whole lot up and in on itself and it stays in this weird self-supporting hairstyle. I do it every night when I was wash my face. It was really late when I finished this top, hence the nighttime hair style and atrocious lighting! x

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    4. True, underwear as a feature can be very cool - I keep seeing women with very low-backed tops and fancy-backed bras on display. Yep, basically a totally fragrance-free zone here. I've actually pretty much stopped buying second-hand clothes online because I find the smells of laundry products NEVER go away and they just spread to everything else in the wash! And do you mean there's nothing holding your hair up?! x

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  2. What a gorgeous top! I am developing something of an obsession with stripy tops and that one is definitely making me want to have a go at making my own!

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    1. They're so wearable aren't they. I like that they're patterned, but somehow read as a plain fabric in terms of feeling unfussy and completely neutral. Do have a go! x

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  3. A friend once told me she loved the smell of my washing - I think it wasn't so much the powder as the fresh country air it was dried in! I am very sensitive to the smell of other people's washing (I use Ecover and wouldn't use anything else!). I can always smell when my neighbour hangs hers out. On the subject of other nuts in my filing cabinet, I still remember someone saying to me, when I was expecting my third, or was it my fourth, that I was one of the few women she'd seen who actually looked good pregnant! Lovely top by the way - one day I shall tackle knits.....

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    1. I actually really love the way Ecover smells and use their washing up liquid and wool wash...but when it comes to fabric softener I always find myself wanting something less subtle! I think you're right about the country air thing - air dried washing does definitely smell completely different.

      That's a really lovely thing, isn't it and very fortunate indeed having had four children - lucky you :)

      I found knits really scary before tackling them myself. The important thing to remember is that while they can be a tiny bit tricker to sew (but not much), it's far easier to get a really super fit than it is with a woven fabric. And it's so quick with no raw edges to worry about and no darts or zips to insert. x

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    2. Yes, I think I smell the whole neighbourhood's laundry being hung out! Glad it's not just me!

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  4. Several years ago I decided when I was out and about that I would endeavor to pay random compliments. When I did this one day to a man who smelt gorgeous his reply was that he could not take credit as it was due to his wife's laundry skills. Those were his exact words and just writing it makes me smile again. I too am a lover of stripes and I dare not commit in writing how many tops of said design I own... Off to buy fabric now.

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  5. I love your top and the fabric. Is it a self drafted pattern or would you say what it is? I have just mastered my over locker (after two years of it challenging me from a shelf in my studio!,) and am dying to make tops like this

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  6. I love stripy tops so this is a real winner to me.
    It's so hard to know what you are buying with fabrics online as you say so being able to really find out what you are buying sounds like a bonus, Thanks.

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  7. I know what you mean about fabric conditioner. I do like to experiment with different combinations of powder & conditioner to get the perfect scent (sad I know, but I love the smell of freshly dried & scented clothes!) My childhood friend's entire bedroom smelled like fabric conditioner in a good way, it was very subtle but so welcoming and pleasant. Her mother also cooked a lot with fresh herbs and spices, so downstairs smelled wonderful at dinnertime, and she baked a lot too so the kitchen smelled of fresh baking... I would wander around just surreptitiously smelling the house! (odd). Lovely top, hope you enjoy wearing it.

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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

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