In our house we have an expression: “If at first you don’t succeed, read the blooming instructions”. And, under certain frustrating circumstances, that “blooming” might be a swear word. Often the brochure supplied with a heating unit, a coffee dispenser (Nick – it’s two pushes of the button), or even with your sewing machine may explain several things you have been struggling with for years.
So when I saw a pattern for a simple pleated skirt in one of the Sew Magazines I had been given by William Gee, I read the instructions, but I didn’t follow them! As a consequence I got something quite different. Not a bad skirt but one that was unnecessarily complex and annoying to put together. I felt I had let the pattern down; although I frequently “wing it” sometimes it is just nice to do as you are told and follow the “blooming” instructions. This is one of the joys of commercial patterns, I find.
Why am I resistant to following the instructions? Another expression comes to mind; “Pride comes before a fall”. I can be overconfident, thinking I can adapt a boring pattern to one that would use the full spread of my fabric, and suit me better. Anyway I wanted to give the pattern, as written, as second chance.
I found a small piece of modern retro fabric that had a pleasing pattern, red on pink, that I figured would be ideal for this skirt. More ideal than the fabric the magazine used (a wide, John Kaldor linen), as it was a narrower width and thus created very little waste, (in fact just enough for another small patchwork sample at my class).
I was able to use the interfacing and lining generously supplied by William Gee. Sure the lining was dark red, and the two pieces were slightly different shades. But so what? No one sees your lining, and anyway I like varied shades.
I was also able to use the iron-on interfacing I got in my goodie box. By interfacing the pleated area I could create a nice crisp outline. Also you can write on interfacing alot easier than on red and pink fabric. I drew the stitch lines for the pleats directly onto the interfacing. I used an invisible zip from my own collection.
I wore the skirt again as part of my Me Made May efforts. I think this was probably the most weird outfit I managed during May. Lots of different shades of pink and red, brown with green and pink, a sort of boy scout vibe and my cozy Cyrene jacket, dark tights and brogue shoes. I don’t think I will be wearing this combination again!
You may also be wondering what else I have made with the contents of my prize box.
I am sharing my good fortune as much as possible, so when Charlotte (my dear stepdaughter) came to stay I gave her the little blue bows so she could make cards for friends having babies. I will show you her work when complete. She also took a bag of assorted buttons to make a picture for her partner, Lee.
The other item I shared with her was the French knitting bobbin. She soon got the hang of that and took it away to potentially make yards of French knitting. Doesn’t the malachite ring that Nick made look great too?
Charlotte soon learned the technique, and she thought the little figure was cute. But what can you do with these cords of knitted yarn?
I had the answer!
One of my Mum’s carers, Kath Robinson, loves making rugs with this technique. She showed me her work recently. Kath and her husband have a caravan and she finds doing the French knitting is a nice way to enjoy the evenings with no TV. I liked the way she used a variegated yarn to sew the long cords together. It was quite an impressive rug, in rather gorgeous shades.
Do you always follow the instructions? And what can one do with French knitting?