Quick Catch-Up

Still plugging away at the Goldstream Peacoat. It’s been a big job! Bigger than I expected going in anyway. I’ve ended up hand-sewing a whole lot more than I originally planned both because I have more control over the stitches and because it got pretty darned hard to get this beast under the presser foot! I ended up having to move a bunch of stuff off my sewing table because it all kept ending up on the floor as I wrestled the coat around on the sewing machine. I have to say that Janny the Janome held up very well to this thick fabric plus layers of interfacing. As long as I could get the thing under the presser foot it would sew through it. I only ran into an issue (bobbin thread nests) as I was doing the topstitching on the fronts and around the collar. Probably because I was turning the whole coat around with the needle down. Not perfect but done.

Here’s a couple of teaser photos so you can see the lining. Debbie Double is wearing the coat inside out!

Coat lining with inside pocket
Back facing with my label

Lots of critters in them thar woods, eh? I edged the lining with flat piping made from the sleeve lining fabric and I think it looks pretty neat. Now I’m sewing the sleeve linings which are the last pieces to assemble and sew in. By hand. Of course. All that’s left after that are the buttonholes and 3 buttons. Also by hand. Of course. It’s still going to take a few more days before this thing is completed. I’m kind of ready for it to be finished now.

One other thing I did was to begin a new pair of socks to try out my wee ChiaoGoo Shorties. They work quite well for me, at least on this simple basic sock. I used some DBG Confetti yarn that I totally love because it wears really well but is now discontinued. Boo-hoo. Self-striping socks are so old-fashioned now, aren’t they? I still like them though. What I don’t like is the stitch marker! The thickness leaves a bit of a ladder in the knitting which you might be able to just detect there above the pink marker. Changing it out for a thinner one now. Besides pink is my least favourite colour.

Self-striping socks on a 2mm tiny circular


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Crafty Woman

The Peacoat Project is coming along. But how about a wee digression? Mostly because I’m kind of tired of semi-couture tailoring! And I do mean a “wee” digression. See?

ChiaoGoo TWIST Shorties

Apparently ChiaoGoo means “crafty woman” in Chinese and this is a really small set of interchangeable knitting needles. I heard all you going “Wait! What?” But I’ll show them to you first before I give you my reasoning behind this purchase. They are absolutely adorable!

All this is packed into that little red pouch: 6 sets of needle tips from 2mm-3.25mm in two lengths (2” and 3”) in their own little case, a needle gauge, 4 keys, 6 resin stitch markers, 3 cables (5”, 6” and 8”) 2 teensy-tiny little cable connectors, and 2 end stoppers. The TWIST connectors are the “mini” size, the smallest anyone makes and all are compatible with ChiaoGoo’s other mini items. Don’t believe me when I say how small these are? Evidence!

Mini connections

And I have really small hands too. They are beautifully machined from surgical stainless steel and the cables are flexible coated woven wire. I’m going to have to be careful with the tiny connectors so they don’t get lost but luckily replacements are also available separately. Also stoppers, tips, cables, etc. The connections are quite secure when you use the keys that look suspiciously like T-pins and the transitions all seem smooth.

Which leads me to the “why” of this needle set. As you might know I have a pretty full set of Addi Lace Clicks as my go-to interchangeable needles. But they only go down to 3.25mm needle tips and the shortest cable/needle combo is 16”. Good sizes for hats but not for sleeves or socks. I found this helpful chart online for the Shorties set:

Source: fiberific.com.au

It shows how many different lengths you can obtain by combining tips and cables. There was some talk about the company increasing the available tip sizes but that doesn’t seem to have happened. That would have made these more useful for sleeves in larger gauges. I don’t know what the hold-up is but it could be that the wee connections are just too small to support heavier tips. ChiaoGoo does also have a mini set with 5” tips from 1.5mm-2.5mm and 3 longer cables plus pieces are available separately too so smaller obviously works fine! And there’s a small-cable to large-tip adapter so if they could come out with a mini-small adapter you could add heavier tips that way. I’ll wait and see how it goes. Anyway, I thought this Shorties set would cover an empty space in my rather vast knitting needle collection. Life is too short to put up with crappy tools, amirite?

I generally knit socks on 2mm dpns (my favourite being the Knitter’s Pride Cubics) and I don’t enjoy Magic Loop at all. So the smallest size of these would be perfect. I also knit on 2 socks at the same time so I can either use the stoppers when I switch to the second sock or if the circumference is wide enough, use a differential (one of each tip length). We’ll see how it works in practice though, huh?

All that said, I wouldn’t recommend the Shorties for just any knitter! As I’ve mentioned, my hands are very small so the tiny sizes of these needles aren’t really a problem for me. I often work in fine yarns and small gauges so the tip sizes are in my ballpark. But your hands may cramp up trying to grip tiny needles or you might prefer knitting with heavier weight yarns so these would not be for you at all. They also seem to be rather scarce so you might have trouble finding a vendor. I went through Amazon.ca and it took about a month to come. From Germany! Go figure. Though since then I’ve discovered a more local source for the stoppers and connectors and such. They don’t have the Shorties kit though.

Anyway I’m looking forward to casting on something and trying them out! However, I still have 2 knitting projects to finish first. And let us not forget, The Peacoat! Today’s progress:

Handmade shoulder pads

Cotton muslin cover over 4 layers of cotton quilt batting. I made them slightly asymmetrical and with the longer side to the back, they fit well. Next step – getting the sleeves in. And a plethora of catch-stitching inside.

“It’s the coat that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends!”

A Tale of Two Interfacings

Well, actually three interfacings but first we’ll discuss the two different brands of fusible hair canvas that I bought.

Hair canvas, two kinds.

I know it would be helpful if I knew which brands these are but unfortunately I didn’t note that down! The top one is more grey in colour and also more expensive at $15.99 per metre. I bought that one at Dressew. The bottom piece is a lighter colour, slightly heavier in the hand (but that’s mostly due to the beads of glue on the back) and cost $12.98 per metre at Fabricana (Richmond, BC). Both types were around 20 – 22” wide, so quite narrow as fabrics go. Per square metre they are more expensive than my main fabric. Even the cheap one.

Now comes the truth! The first more-expensive one was easily and successfully fused to the coat fronts and the collar pieces. It held the roll lines really nicely when I allowed it to cool and dry into shape. Just as if I had actually spent time pad stitching the shaping in as you would for a non-fusible but way less work! I had planned to also interface the facing pieces which on this double-breasted style are quite wide and could use good support. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough of the original type of canvas so when we went out to Fabricana where I bought the weft-insertion interfacing (because Dressew didn’t have any) I picked up another metre of whatever brand of hair canvas it was that they had available there. I used the exact same fusing technique that I did on all the other interfacings but this stuff did NOT want to stick to my wool blend melton cloth. It bubbled badly and you could not only feel it but see the pimpling when I tried to fold the roll line. Didn’t hold its shape either. Grrrr….

Obviously not the same product at all! And a complete waste of my money. How can you know these things though unless you test them? It’s not like the store will sell you a tiny test square of each kind! The only upside was that it peeled off my facing pieces without damaging them. Much too easily in fact because I didn’t even need to use the iron to soften the glue. Boo. Binned. So now what? I decided to use the weft-insertion interfacing on my front facings instead.

Suitmaker 602 weft-insertion fusible interfacing

I did manage to remember the name of this one! I also like it a lot. The 602 is the heavier version. (There’s also a lighter weight 601.) The fibre content is 78% viscose/22% polyester and this is the “black”. It’s much darker IRL but not really completely black. It fused easily with lots of steam and pressure for about 12 seconds and didn’t leave any glue on Chi-Long’s foot. The results are a thicker, non-stretchy but still flexible fabric. You can’t even see a line from the front where a partial interfacing piece ends. This is good stuff. Luckily I bought 4 metres (at $7.25 per metre if you’re keeping track) and I’m glad I did because I don’t have all that much left now. This peacoat is seriously interfaced out the wazoo. Did I mention how much I love Chi-Long, my new iron? He is so steamy!

Fusing the back stay

I was also working on the front pockets. I basted and hand-stitched around to tuck in the lining so it wouldn’t show at the edges.

Slip-stitching the pockets

Hey, my nails are pretty clean compared to what they look like in gardening season! Which is coming up soon. When it stops snowing. But I digress. I also topstitched the patch pockets using the triple stitch and regular thread. I tried some heavier topstitching thread but because I couldn’t get a good colour match it just didn’t look right. I may be using it for the hand-stitched buttonholes however. Not thinking about that right now. Anyway, the pockets and the flaps are on and looking pretty good. I’ll really show you the lining as soon as I get to that point. It’s very manly. Heh.

But next? Some actually assembly perhaps?

Deep Coat

Oh. My dears. I am down and dirty with this Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat for Thom. This beast is armour tough! Seventy-gabillion layers of interfacing: hair canvas, fusible weft insertion. Roll-line stay tape. Lining. Basting. Tailor’s tacks, for crying out loud! I feel as if I’ve been cutting out pieces for an eon. Fusing…

Let me tell you right now – do not believe interfacing bolt labels that state “No need to preshrink”. They are very wrong.

See the white paper showing? That’s how much the fusible interfacing made the front shrink.

I don’t think it was the fault of the dark olive green melton cloth fabric (a wool blend) because I ran it through 3 separate steam cycles in a hot dryer to preshrink it. When I fused the whole front pieces with the weft-insertion interfacing, they shrank again approximately 1/2” in length and 1/4” in width. I can work around this but luckily it didn’t shrink any further after I added another layer of fusible hair canvas to the top and front sections and yet another “chest shield” piece to the shoulder area. Whew. Major construction zone here! I also fused bias cut hair canvas to the collar pieces but they only shrank about 1/8” in every direction. I haven’t completed the front facings yet but I’m expecting some shrinking there too. Note to self: next time preshrink all the damn interfacing in hot water first! Roll in a towel to remove extra moisture and air dry. Easy peasy, right? (Coulda-shoulda-woulda-didna!) I ended up using 3 metres of the hair canvas and over 2 metres of the weft insertion in this thing. This is not a trivial part of the construction obviously. However, notice how I managed to avoid pad stitching? Fusibles are useful that way.

So even though I’m feeling as if I’ve spent forever on this coat so far, I’ve only gotten this far:

It’s backless!

Yes, Debbie Double is wearing Thom’s peacoat. Well, the front anyhow. We’ll pretend she’s not adding any chest bumps, okay? He actually has almost the same chest measurement as I do. Heh. I have wider hips though! The collar is just sitting there. And I pinned one of the pockets on to check the placement. I had to imagine the roll-line placement where the collar and lapels fold back since this pattern didn’t include it. I pin-basted the under collar on and tried it on Thom to see where it naturally broke. I marked both the fronts and the collar and hope I got it more-or-less in the right place. It looks a lot stiffer here than it will be after the seams are stitched and pressed. I hope. I really do want this coat to have some shape anyway though. No slouching on my watch!

It’s been a really hard job figuring out how to do all this “correctly”. I guess not traditionally correct because of the fusible interfacing but functionally correct. After all this work I’d like this peacoat to look good, fit properly and wear well. Hopefully that’s not too much to ask?

Meanwhile I haven’t accomplished much else. The socks are up to the heel turns finally. The Grey Coopworth has nearly a second bobbin full. Haven’t touched the Deciduous Pullover or the Fernwood yarn at all. The weather has gotten a little warmer and some of the snow has melted in the rain. We had sun today too which helped a lot in the studio to see what I was doing. I almost didn’t need the lights on. Walking outdoors isn’t pleasant right now in the sloppy mixture of ice and slush so I don’t feel too bad hanging out inside sewing instead. More Goldstream Peacoat details coming soon.

Comfortable

When I was madly sewing trying to finish up the bra project, I had a moment when I realised that I was finally feeling for all the dials and levers and changing the feet on my 6-month-old sewing machine without thinking about it! It didn’t feel awkward or new or deliberate anymore. Just Jenny and I working together like she’s an extension of my hands and brain. It’s taken nearly 6 months to get to this point so it’s not like it was instantaneous or anything. I had to unlearn my 40-year-old Pfaff first. I guess it’s like driving a new car – except that I don’t drive. Kind of glad we’re bonded now. I have lots more items for us to to make together!

So now that I’ve crossed bras off my list for the foreseeable future, it’s back to sewing for The Bearded One. Somehow I’m finding it much easier to justify buying fabric for garments for him. Possibly because I have way too much in the fabric stash already for myself! He has been wearing the heck out of nearly everything I’ve made him so obviously he’s Sew-Worthy, right? He says he wants to have a handmade wardrobe too. Awww…isn’t that sweet? OK then. I have patterns and I know how to use them.

We had already recently bought more sweatshirt type fabrics on our last foray to Dressew so today I cut them both out ready to sew:

North Star and Finlayson

The brown fleece-backed knit on the left (it’s a little darker IRL) is for the North Star pullover (below left). I like the fleece side on the inside for warmth but probably will make the inner collar that sits next to his neck with the fuzzy side out and maybe the pocket bindings as well. The strip of batik binding is for the inside neck edge which definitely shows when the top is worn with the zipper partway down. I have a very cool brown zipper with bronze-green teeth for this one too. The other fabric, the navy French terry on the right, is lighter weight and will work well for the Finlayson sweater (below right). The shawl collar is very thick where it attaches at the lower front neck due to the many layers converging so it doesn’t work well with a fabric that’s too thick and heavy. It looks really nice when done though but I’m pretty sure the instructions for upper and lower collars should be reversed. The slightly smaller collar piece should be the one that ends up on the top at the centre front so the larger piece curves over top of it when it’s folded. Am I making any sense? I did let Morgan know my feelings on this way back when but didn’t get a reply. Perhaps either I’m not getting my point across clearly enough or she prefers it the way it’s written in her instructions. I’m still sewing it my way anyhow.

There will be more on these projects soon. I’ve also started assembling the many pages of PDF printouts for the Goldstream Peacoat. This is my entry for the #So50Visible challenge from Instagram’s @SewOver50 group. You are supposed to sew a pattern that features a model who is obviously older. There are prizes for randomly chosen entries! The peacoat can also be tagged with #sewmenswearforeveryone sponsored by @sewcialists so I hope to get a two-fer out of it! I’m still pretty nervous to start this one though. But I’m going to power through. Right now I’m really enjoying piecing the pattern together. It’s the easy part. Heh.

State of the UFOs

The barebones list I made last time was pretty boring, no? Besides the sewing that I’ve already discussed, here’s the rest in clockwise order from top/left:

  • The never-ending Deciduous Pullover. It seems to be stuck on the sleeves. Plus I’m playing “yarn chicken” with the main colour. I need to suck it up and finish the darn thing.
  • Blue Dragon Socks (Shur’tugal by Alice Yu). Love the yarn and the pattern but I can’t read while knitting this because there are many crossed stitches. I’m nearly at the heel turn on both socks now so it should go a little quicker after that.
  • Grey NZ Coopworth yarn on the Louet S-90 wheel. I want enough 2-ply sport weight for a sweater for me. So far there’s only 1 full singles bobbin and this bit. To be fair I have been spinning somewhat more recently (a New Year’s Resolution) so there is hope.
  • NZ Corriedale in Aurelia’s Fernwood colourway on the Louet Victoria wheel. It’s laceweight, or at least it will be when I ply it. No idea what I’m going to make with it since I only have 250g of this in total. A lot for a shawl but not enough for a sweater. I just wanted another spinning project that wasn’t the grey Coopworth.

In other news, we finally got some actual snow!

February is still winter.

That might teach me to feel smug that the first lot managed to mostly miss us, huh? The above was yesterday and there’s a little falling now with perhaps more still to come overnight. We’ll see. I always think it’s hilarious that we West Coasters let 4”/10cm of snow shut the city down. Wimps. The rest of Canada is laughing themselves silly.

So you might have noticed that I’m posting more now that I’ve found a platform that works for me! I’m feeling a lot less frustration. Obviously that was what was holding me back before. Thank you, WordPress. And thank you, my friends, for following me over here! Your participation really means a lot to me. Otherwise I’m just talking to myself. Which of course I do. Heh. But it’s more fun with your company.

Finally, An Intro Of Sorts

Hello, my lovelies! I’m really happy that a number of my old followers have been able to join us over here on the new blog. Whew! Thanks for coming! But for any new people out there, welcome! I would like this to be a warm and welcoming place for everyone regardless of shape, size, colour, race, creed, gender, sexuality, nationality or politics. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with anything I post, I hope you will let me know. We are all learning and I would appreciate an opportunity to apologise rather than be ignorant of an offence. Let us all work to create the world we want to live in!

So, who is this damselfly person anyway? In today’s parlance I’m a West Coast Canadian, white, female, cis-gender, heterosexual, senior, introvert, married with 2 adult married children and 3 grandchildren. In other words, a granny who is rather obsessed with all things textile, my garden, and the occasional foray off into the hinterlands in our vintage VW Westfalia. Does that about cover it? Snicker…not hardly! But it’s the best I can do without writing an entire memoir. And boring the heck out of everyone, including me.

You will notice that I don’t separate my crafts, gardening and our travels into separate blogs. I don’t really understand why others compartmentalize like that. My life is all one big adventure! If you aren’t interested in some of my babbling I fully expect you to scroll on. Maybe you’ll enjoy the next post better. Or not. But just so you are warned that I can flit all over the place – even in a single post.

For example, today I have a finished project! Or four. I finally completed the last of the Ingrid bras:

3 Light Copper bras
The odd one!

OK, before you tell me that’s a lot of rather boring bras, let me remind you that I’ve been experimenting with how many I can get out of a reasonable order from Bra-makers Supply. I discovered that .5 M of duoplex, .25 M of power net, .25 M of cut and sew foam, 3 M 3/4” firm band elastic, 4 M 3/8” firm band elastic, 3 M 3/8” fold-over elastic, 4 3X3 hook & eyes and 4 slider & ring sets equals 4 bras. There will be extra power net and a lot of extra foam but those are the minimum pieces you can get. Of course if you wear a different bra size than I do, your needs will be different! Mine is a 4.25” BCD/32” band and I’m really good at squeezing pattern pieces together while still keeping the grainlines (aka DOGS) correct.

Now you’re wondering why the last bra is different. I only ordered 3 sets of findings instead of 4 not knowing I could manage to cut one more. Also why not? After I saw a inspirational photo on Bra-makers’ blog, I decided to try a cross-back strap to keep the straps situated in farther for more cut-away sleeveless tops. It’s made from a spare piece of underbust elastic instead of strap elastic but who cares? Unfortunately I need help doing up this bra! Can’t get into it by myself. Sigh. Not that the Bearded One minds helping! Ahem. But I don’t think I’ll be making more of this style right away. Besides, now I have a whole bra collection including the ones I made earlier. Three that are a little small but wearable and maybe half-a-dozen better ones? I lost count! Damselfly’s Bra Factory is now closed for business. We will now go onto other things. Was that a collective sigh of relief I heard?

Goodbye and Hello


I’m doing my best Maneki Neko and beckoning my old followers over here.

Hold on to your hats! It’s for reals now! I’m now officially ensconced here on this shiny new blog leaving the old Damselfly’s Delights to fossilize back on Blogger. If you’re a new reader and are curious or a previous reader and want to get back there for some reason, just click on the Old Blog link in the menu up top. There are nearly 14 years worth of posts on there: some good, some not-so and some just me nattering on. I’m not planning to take them down but I’m unhappy with the way things are going – or not going – on Blogger. There are plans to integrate it with Google+. Meh. Whatevs, as the young people say. I’m here now so out with the old and in with the new! Let’s see where this one will take us, shall we?

I have plans to post an introduction for those who are new to me and my obsessions…er, interests, but that might take a little time to produce. There’s kind of a lot to say! Meanwhile I have a current projects list, which is probably more for me than maybe of interest to others. Might give you a clue to my main focus on textiles. Anyhow, I’d like to add this to every post from now on but we’ll see how that goes.

Currently working on:

  • Sewing: 4 Bras Light Copper (pattern Pin-Up Girls Ingrid). Status: 50%
  • Knitting: Deciduous Pullover (pattern self-designed). Status: 75%
  • Knitting: Blue Dragon Socks (pattern “Shur-tugal by Alice Yu). Status: 35%
  • Spinning: Coopworth, Grey (2/ply sweater-quantity). Status: 1 out of 6 bobbins singles.
  • Spinning: Corriedale, Fernwood (250g from Aurelia). Status: .5 bobbin singles.