Designing with panels

Having whined ad nauseam about my new grandmotherly weight class I thought it about time to share some solutions I’ve pondered (apart from eating less). There are wardrobe issues such as:

1139-2Winter warmth – just about the only menopause symptom I haven’t had is hot flashes. Oh no, I get all the obscure ones. Woollen sweaters sometimes take me years to finish, so imagine how long they can be worn if you grow 1-2 sizes per year. Oh and the mild weather sweaters take longer because thinner yarn = smaller stitches! So I’m going to reinvent my construction method, which usually means a fairly close knit or the wind just blows right through to my delicate skin. Even indoors believe it or not. Also, tighter knits and firmer yarns have better durability to wear and tear that the looser, more flattering drapy fabrics don’t. The problem being of course they don’t have as much give and leave you feeling like a sausage as soon as your planned ease turns negative.

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This is another one of those days where I have a number of blog drafts sitting around, but can’t get to the end of them because stuff is missing. (I can’t tell you of a loom I did not get to buy for instance because somebody else beat me to it) But I need to keep in touch or I’ll go missing entirely I think, there’s definitely something to staying in the flow, not just with art, but with blogging too. The more you do, the more ideas happen as well.

Busy week here preparing for an insurance inspection, ditto meeting and generally a very tiring May. My journal has ONE page in it, that’s how little I’ve been “me” instead of janitor/general manager/headache monster. Trying to reset myself now, mentally and physically, by doing very little, my brain is boiling a wee bit. Definitely hoping to get back to work on Monday, and I know I’ve said that about some previous Mondays as well, but this time I mean it or I’ll murder somebody. I don’t even care if they deserve it. šŸ˜‰

Anyway, we were out of dog food and old ladies get special low calorie senior kibble, so I had to drive to town today and decided to try a marathon run of my long accumulated shopping list. No more room on the whiteboard. Only forgot to look for two things and didn’t get one other which was not available, so all in all I feel very efficient and also accomplished enough to relax about granting myself some me-time. So much for resetting, but I did that most of yesterday at least and haven’t done much else today either. I may not be able to get artsyfartsy on weekends, but I think tomorrow will be for a couple of projects where I just have to point. Rhubarb pie might happen.


Only yesterday I was thinking about how it would be nice to have various shades of bright thread to make scrap blankets/quilts from old clothes. Well, first stop on our tour was getting a new cover for painting on the dining table and what did they have at the checkout counter? A little junk basket of very marked down threads… Thanks a bunch!


Second score was a new hedge trimmer. The one I’ve been using for the last 12 years is a bit weak and I often have to hack my way through if I need to trim close. My arms, shoulders and back just aren’t up to the job anymore, so we agreed last year that I’d get a better one. Tried various types and the really good ones were also too heavy, so I hope I’ve found a good medium variety. Why doesn’t the large person in the household cut hedges? Because he is not a garden freak and I’d go bonkers having to supervise the job. He could theoretically use this one too, but it wouldn’t work the other way round; which means I’d have to be a major nag to get it done. Not my favourite situation at all. And, well, I kinda like doing it. Especially after.


I’m going to try fishing line for helping with my selvedges in weaving. Do you think this will be strong enough? I obviously didn’t have a chance to pull it before buying…

I also bought a piece of wood. Maybe another day I’ll show you what I want to make from it. It amuses me no end to prance around the hardware store, try things out and pick what I want, with a guy in tow just carrying the stuff!


My saori jacket is not making a lot of progress, oodles of design errors and remakes. I was picking out buttons the other day, haven’t found the perfect set, but decided on “good enough”. This pile I received from Melanie in Toulouse along with chocolate and two lovely scarves, how’s that for a score!? Maybe some day surprise packages will go out in the opposite direction, but for now that’s a secret.


And that’s about it from the cottage this week. The lilacs are looking spectacular at the moment, but so far I’ve forgotten fresh photos of them. Lucky for me, they look just the same as last year. I’m going to try my very best to be a little bit interesting in the near future.

Sew done

Had a bit more energy today, colder outside (+inside) and windy = I managed to get some of those fabrics done that I threatened to zigzag etc. yesterday. Well, the fun bits anyway, such as the saori jacket, not weaving in ends on my sweater. Most boring task in the world. The vest works great under an oversized, ruinedĀ (as in I got paint on it) sweater for keeping me warmer.

A couple of sneak peeks (and pssst – I did paint a teeny bit too! It’s difficult to dive back in, though, as I haven’t been in any kind of flow yet to just pick it up where I left, so I started something new)

More clothes changing

I’m having severe painting withdrawal symptoms (ie temper tantrums, surliness, self pity and alround discomfort), but I’m also too knackered to do anything really involved today. Napping a lot sounds fascinating! I’m only halfway through my house&garden chores, so it will perhaps be at least a week before I pick up my brushes again, depending on when I wake up from this fatigue, finish the chores, wake up from the next fatigue, yadda yadda more chores having arrived. šŸ˜‰ I have taken some time this weekend to play a bit with my old macro lens and flowers, that helps in soothing my nerves and itchy fingers.

Today’s program got cut down to one physical assignment, needing perfect weather which will end tomorrow, and then I thought I could do little short sessions on my wardrobe situation. Not all necessarily, just a suggestion, mind.

  1. Fix those sleeves on the denim dress.
  2. Fix some other sleeves and then dye the offending sweater – see below.
  3. Cut my green saori fabric for assembly (knit piece to be done) – I’ll show you that when it’s done.
  4. Seam my blue woven tunic (which I haven’t shown you yet either)
  5. Hem a pair of pants that I had already done with an iron-in clever thing that glues the fabric together until it’s been washed…
  6. Wash my holey sweater before deciding if I want longer sleeves, YES, it is done, just need to weave in ends. When it’s dry. Unless I decide to shorten body and lengthen sleeves.
  7. OMG there must be rhubarb in the “jungle” now, I need to cook something with it. Yum. I also have some lactose free cream that expires next week, fresh vanilla…

All done in little increments, such as:messytable

  • Put holey sweater in really hot water in sink. Leave it until you can touch it.
  • Get the sewing machine from upstairs.
  • Have coffee with PC while boiling a very large pot of tea and red onion peels.
  • Measure and cut all your fabrics and do the zigzagging. Or one at a time.
  • Reheat coffee in microwave. Watch funny video.
  • Pin saori jacket together, try it on Mimi and determine whether the knit piece is really really going to be 15 cm wide.
  • Lunch
  • Nap in garden unless the wind picks up.
  • Dogwalk. No shopping on the way home, eat leftovers. Or corn flour pancakes with extra eggs. Or both.
  • Interwebs clicking
  • Sew the denim sleeves (in portions of drawing wedges, zz’ing wedges, attaching wedges, find ribbon edge for sleeves) and the side panels on the tunic. Perhaps. Oh well, the machine is out anyway.
  • Clear table in hopeful anticipation of some painting session or other. Put all the plants back that the kittens had knocked down.
  • Put up electric fence on all window sills Daydream.
  • Take pictures of projects with new broken pocket cam and post them on blog.
  • Garden walk sit and dig up offending dandelions and thistles.

orange3Anyway, on to my latest modification. Remember my orange sweater? While I love the pattern, I never really loved the sweater. I’d been too enthusiastic with my sleeve decreases AND it turned out the yarn is crazy itchy on the body. It’s cotton/alpaca and you’d never guess just touching it, on the contrary. And then there’s the colour. It just feels like an orange version of beige on me, not flattering. So all in all, I didn’t use it much.

So first I decided to frog the sleeves. Yes, I could have knit them again, wider, but I’m not in the mood, and it really looks best with nothing under = crazy itchy.

khakiAnd now it’s a vest, and it’s had a large pot of tea. I’m always cold, but too many layers of sleeves really get in the way when you’re working with either water or paint. What do you think? The onion peels were a stupid idea since the vest isn’t mordanted, in fact the tea didn’t take either except to activate the iron afterbath. I guess I can always add blue acid dye at some point, or woad. Or green, since it’s already khaki. Pocket cam has horrible colour balance fwiw.

It may be an ongoing theme however, this remodelling of old clothes! Btw I didn’t have to worry about the dress I wanted to change for a smaller size coming out too small, it appears the whole return package (5 items) has gone missing and never reached the company. So much for buying cheap stuff when you can’t get your money back. That’ll teach me. Or not, possibly. Now that I think about it, we haven’t had any mail this week either. Odd. I’m waiting for a very special package.

It’s 4 pm and I’ve at least done the napping and the PC part of my list! No dog walk I think. Picked the rhubarbs earlier, now I’ll consider cutting them up and throw them in a pot with a pod. And I’m going to see if I can cut, zigzag and clear the table before bedtime. At least when I’m this poorly there is a greater chance of painting because I have to back off completely on the harder work for a while. My hands need a bit of mending too! More on the wardrobe mods at a later date if anyone is interested. I’ll try to get a photo of the blue holey on me, so you can help me decide on lengths?

Change your clothes

After I’ve put on weight I have a notion to camouflage my bum and legs, and besides, the new clothes (a rare treat) I bought last year are still in the closet with labels on, fitting like sausage skins. šŸ™ So I decided to try out the concept of dresses, something I’ve been opposed to ever since I was 4 and my granny dressed me up for dance lessons. Shudder. But I actually have the shape for it, because I have a lot of shape, at least I used to when I had a waist. šŸ˜‰ Anyhow, I couldn’t bear seeing myself in shorts this summer, it’s as if my body type has aged 10 years in 12 months.

There are plans to weave fabric and use that for clothing, but that all takes a bit of time, so I needed something “now”.

no sleevesI wanted to keep a low budget, so I mail ordered a bunch of stuff 1-2 sizes larger than my normal. Some were much too large after all, some ok. One dress is actually quite roomy, but the little sleeves, oy! I felt like my armpits were being cut open and the whole dress moved up if I tried to lift my arms.

I decided to keep it however, because I’m not used to inelastic fabric and tend to feel constrained if the fit is close and stiff. But I removed those sleeves and all of a sudden it was fine. In fact I could have just seamed and used it like that, but I’m A. also a bit selfconscious about my chubby arms and B. once it was released from the sleeves, the opening actually became quite large and shows too much bra for my taste, and C. their seaming allowance was very narrow, so the frayed edges show.

So I went ahead and tried to make new sleeves. It took a lot of paper and three versions from an old bed sheet before I finally had a good template, then it’s just a matter of finding a nice sleeve material. Either look in my box, the thrift shop or weave some, what to do? I’d just warped the loom with something else, so in the end I opted for what I could do on the same day. (it did in fact take me most of the day, which surprised me a bit – had I known I probably would have gone with the visible bra!) I found an old shirt the exact same colour and type of material, not as exciting, but not too hippie either.

old sleeve and new template

I rather like the idea of recycling and making rather than constantly buying new, even if I’d had a large pay check every month. I also like the challenge, and it seems it’s a necessary skill when you’re not an average body type. So I learned to shorten my trousers even as a teenager, and luckily I remember some of the stuff my mum taught me about sewing then. It’s not very pretty, either because I pedal too fast or get my pins stuck in the feeder mechanism, but it works.

Strangely as soon as the new sleeves were firmly attached, there was again some tightness in front and the armhole was raised? Very odd, because the circumference is fine both top and bottom, about 5 cm/2″ more than my actual measurements, so it’s some other design thing. I’m keeping it for now, but I may actually remove them if it gets annoying. As you can see from the template, they’re still vastly improved, but it really isn’t all that simple to figure out! Possibly if I shorten the top end of the sleeve? (as in on top of my arm, making the angle of the hem different) Don’t want it to flare too much either. Anyone who has an idea what angle I didn’t get right, please chime in here! I haven’t actually done anything this elaborate before. I guess it all depends whether I want to wear this outside in the community, or just use it for gardening. In case of the latter, I definitely want to be able to move my arms freely. Maybe I should have done zip on sleeves, LOL.


The other two items that I kept also needed some alterations, but nothing major. All in all it does seem like a good idea though, to sometimes buy a roomy size and then use the excess fabric to tailor the garment a bit to your own dimensions. While I’m in the mood for tentlike, there’s no reason to actually look pregnant… Mimi has really been handy for wearing the dresses while I put pins in them, rather than trying to juggle them flat on the table (amongst cats, paint brushes and whatnot).

But the fact that it takes so long also made me rethink the whole concept – not that I would have spent any less time in shops searching perhaps in vain for something that fit, using diesel to get there and getting annoyed, it still seems out of proportion to spend so many hours on a single task. Just for vanity… Obviously if I knew what I was doing it might not have taken so long, but it’s not how I want to spend my time on a regular basis at the cost of other projects. I try to look for activities that give as much or more back than I put into it – time or money. Some things are worth paying for to get it out of the way, compared to the “joy” you might have of making them. Such as a mechanical ball winder for yarn vs. winding them by (arthritic) hand. Others yield a different value and seem to be worth any number of hours compared to what salary you could have made in the same time, does that make sense?