Tuesday, 15 December 2009

On kimonos, 'strides' and waiting...

Firstly - thank you so much for all the lovely comments on my last post listing UK online fabric shops - for those of you who subscribe through bloglines, for some reason it cut half the post off, so if you click through to the actual post, you may find a great many more shops listed than were visible in bloglines.

Anyway, kimono. About a year ago I started getting requests to make kimonos in a wider range of sizes (they currently cover UK sizes 6 -10) - an idea which I found overwhelming due to never having graded a pattern before...which bits would need to be bigger or smaller...does one just increase all the pattern pieces or make adjustments only to certain areas? So many baffling questions that I simply said no, as I couldn't bear the idea of sending it off to someone and them finding it too big...or more distressingly too small - I didn't want to be responsible for anyone's bad dressing room day.

Anyway, I finally met with someone persuasive enough, and more importantly, local enough that they were happy to stop by for any necessary fitting and adjustments, to finally begin drafting a kimono pattern in a larger size - this one will fit UK sizes 14-16...(which leaves me with a 10-12 gap in my range...perhaps I will brave that one day too). Anyway, the girl in question picked out this scrummy Denyse Schmidt print, which is perfect for a kimono as Denyse's fabrics tend to feel a little lighter, with more of a sheen to them than standard cottons.

When the girl in question visited and tried on the pink kimono in a smaller size there were things I wouldn't have instantly thought of that needed adjusting...for instance, as well as the belt needing to be longer, it also needed to be deeper. I loved finding out what details it is that makes a garment look 'right' on whoever is wearing it. Anyway, after many days worth of strokey-beard moments the final fitting revealed that, apart from needing to shorten the arm length a little, all ended up fitting perfectly and I felt so relieved that I hadn't just cut up 5 metres of Denyse Schmidt on a misadventure that would have no hope of ever fitting man or beast, let alone the lovely songstress in question (for she is a singer).

Sticking with the garment theme, Dylon emailed me recently very kindly asking if I'd like to try any of their dyes. I'd already been eyeing their Wash & Dye range, which dispenses with the need to buy vast quantities of salt and simply lets you...yes, wash and dye...as with a normal wash cycle. Anyway, I have a small sub-wardrobe of brown cords as it amazes me quite what different personalities brown cords can have, some slouchy, some a little more foxy...one pair simply can't meet every chestnut-hued corduroy mood or occasion. Anyway, my most beloved pair had become washed out, faded, tattered and slightly more lo-fi than I ever intended them to look.

I think when Dylon first contacted me they may have meant that I use the dyes for crafting purposes, but as these trousers being wearable are essential to my general equilibrium and are worn on especially happy sewing days (and that isn't meant flippantly...sewing always seems to go right when coming from a starting point of feeling happy in one's 'strides' - this is my Papa's bizarre term for trousers, which is actually a far superior word and one which I would use all the time if I thought anyone would understand what I was talking about), these were the things that instantly sprang to mind as 'dying candidates'. So anyway, the dye came, not in a box, but in a thick black sachet bearing a chestnut brown leaf in exactly the shade of 'final trouser' that I was hoping for. I know from previous experience that the more garments you put in the wash, the more thinly the dye is spread and, to me, it seems the colour tends to be more natural and less of a block-colour this way, so I added an old pair of camel-coloured gardening cords into the machine as a sacrificial lamb.

Below is the final result - I couldn't quite believe the change - they look like new, but still slightly vintagey and the colour is perfect. They really are the most scrummy colour and I feel that I've fallen in love with them all over again. Hurrah! Thank you, Dylon.

Today, amongst other things, I have been planning out Dinosaur-boy's quilt that I'm hoping to make him for Christmas. He has long bemoaned his lack of snugly handmade warmth and I couldn't bear letting one more present-giving occasion whizz past without giving him this. He appreciates handmade things just as much as Zebra-girl and treats them differently to shop-bought lovelies, which makes me feel even sadder that he hasn't already got a quilt.

Partly the delay has been in never quite managing to find the right fabrics - Dinosaur-boy's room is incredibly tiny and so for this reason I've tried to keep the colours to cream, white and pale blue to make the room feel airy and light. I longed for something that fitted in with this scheme, but that was more boyish and with more longevity than a baby-blue gingham, which was the only thing that sprang to mind when I'd thought about it in the past. So how happy I was when I spotted the new Monaluna Mingle range of fabrics, which goes perfectly with the older Robert Kaufman 'apples' print.

I also have very particular ideas about quilting this time too - the quilts that I've loved recently have all had straight quilt lines running horizontally across them, which somehow gives such a different effect to the chequerboard look that I went for with my last quilt. I can't wait to get started...which was why I paid a little extra for speedy delivery...and why I will be spending tomorrow with the doorbell next to the sewing machine, and perhaps even checking that the doorbell is working properly every half hour until it actually rings. Yes, waiting for fabric to arrive takes me back to waiting for a boy to call as a teenager. I wonder what my teenage self would have thought to that...actually, I'm sure she would have loved it.



  1. Aren't Dylon dyes great? About every six months I redye all my black cotton - it makes such a difference. I have been doing it in a bucket in the back garden, but I'm excited by the add to the wash idea. Is there no leftover dye staining things in your next wash? That would be my fear.

  2. Oh, I love the word 'strides' too! My Dad uses it as well. Here's to greater use of these lovely "old" words!

    Enjoy your quiltmaking! It's on my Bucket List.


  3. Oh such a lovely post Florence. Firstly, your kimonos are so beautiful and that fabric is perfect. How clever to adapt the pattern which I wouldn't have a clue how to do. Just gorgeous. other quilt - woohoo! I love the colour combination so much. Looking forward to seeing how this one goes for you. I made my eldest daughter's doing horizontal stripes and though I wish I had used different batting (oh that endless quandary) it does give a lovely effect. Actually she loves it as it is floppy enough to wrap around herself in her flat as she works on her art work into the small hours, porr student soul that she is. Great to hear about the dylon too. Yet again I have written a blog in response to your post!!! Happy quilting dear Florence xx

  4. I so love that Denyse Schmidt fabric, and it looks great as a kimono.

  5. Just FYI - "Strides" is what trousers are regularly referred to in Australia. It's a very old term (and that's why Angela knows it too, because she lives round the corner from me here in Sydney - isn't it a small world!)

  6. Oh yes, love the Kimono too - are you going to sell the pattern? Hmmm?

  7. Just to say Florence that the fabric shops have been fantastic - lovely places to visit, dither and purchase without feeling awkward and a truly wonderful range. I've often thought about dying fabric but never have; the 'strides' do look excellent so I may try that out. I adore quilts but find the idea a bit scary, I think yours is going to be perfect for a small boy - really good fabric choices. I think it's so sweet that he loves your things too (but then, who wouldn't?) It is easier I think to be inspired by all things girly so it's great that Dinosaur Boy is not being left out. I think you are very brave expanding out your size range as I can see how daunting all that measuring would be - as a non mathematical person it's terrifying actually. Beautiful fabric you have chosen - you can tell it feels good too.

  8. Mrs long number, the instructions just tell you to run an empty wash through the machine afterwards...I very carelessly did a white wash straight after that and magically they came out completely white, so the dye obviously does go from the machine somehow.

    Oh, Angela and Isabella - that makes perfect sense as we lived in Australia when I was a child, so that's where he will have adopted the term 'strides' from then.

    Pipany - I love your mini-blog posts and have just come back from indepth discussions at the quilting shop...you can imagine the questions without me having to run through them, I know. But needless to say that I am no nearer to finding our dream wadding and have had to compromise yet again.

    Siohban -you're right - it's really so much harder to get enthused about boyish fabrics...but these ones I really do love - such a relief.

    Isabella - re the pattern - I would love to sell it, but it is currently drafted out on enormous bits of newspaper sellotaped together - I simply have no idea how I would go about getting it into the computer, or how people would go about the tiresome job of printing on billboard sized pieces of paper - I'll rethink and perhaps design a version made from squares and rectangles at some point...


  9. Ahh Florence you are a clever one to do all that pattern making and construction!! I am really quite in awe. I am planning to try and make more clothing soon like I used to. And yes, my dad also says 'strides'!! I'm glad you like my quilting - it is a very quick and easy way to make lovely quilts for people. I will try and get a little bit more adventurous with my machine quilting next year but for now this works for me! I'm madly trying to get another one finished for a christmas present for my brother so I'd best be off! xx Oh and by the way, I use a fantastic cotton/polyester 80/20 batting in most of my quilts as it washes beautifully and is perfect for machine quilting as it sort of sticks all the layers together really well once you have basted it.

  10. The kimono is beautiful, I love the colour of the fabric with the belt colour.

  11. Have a very happy Christmas!

    Pomona x


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