An ode to the Driftless that never was...

Alas, dear Driftless, we could have been such good friends.

The heartbreaking tale of one woman and a pile of &@£@£ expensive fabric that met a bittersweet end.

As a self-proclaimed fan of Grainline Studio and the Lark Tee and Scout Tee patterns - I thought it was about time I tried out the Driftless Cardigan.

Now I don't think I've ever made a cardigan before so this was new territory - and in deepest December (2016!!) when I started this, it seemed like a great idea. (Oh how wrong I would be). A soft cosy thick knit cardy - what could be better right? Hmmmm....

I found some great sweater knit fabric (aka stupidly expensive horrendously itchy fluff maker) a while back from Fabric Godmother - wool knit in black, red and grey, ex-designer stock. It's beautiful (it was beautiful) but wow does that get messy fuzzy thread everywhere.

A bit of Pinterest stalking later I settled on size.... After reading some reviews of the pattern I lengthened it by about an inch or so because - leggings. I also widened the sleeve pieces by just straightening them up (they are tapered) as this gal has arms.

I should have read the signs at this point. Turns out even doing that I could barely get my arms in the sleeves without feeling like I was having my blood pressure taken. And.....oh....the...itching.

Apart from losing myself under a million tons of fluff and thread, the second disaster was the pockets. Now, this is not the pattern's fault - the pockets are beautifully drafted and actually really simple to construct - if you can see what you're doing. This fabric was so thick I couldn't sew it with a regular machine as it just wouldn't take it so the whole thing was serger based. Not ideal when the pattern calls for a lovely sharp corner. So one pocket was bigger than the other and hangs out a bit strangely :-/

The third epic disaster was that it then destroyed my overlocker. I'm not sure if  I hit a pin or what but the loopers full-on bent out of shape!!! No amount of messing with it could fix it so off to the overlocker-hospital it went. :(

And there the Driftless sat for 2 overlocker came back fixed but with a warning, it should be replaced soon - and I just daren't break it again with the same project! The cardigan got resigned to UFO status whilst I desperately got the satisfaction of making something...anything...before my overlocker broke again. However, a couple of projects later I braved it and tried again.

NO PINS SHALL GO NEAR THY OVERLOCKER EVER AGAIN!!! I made sure clips were used on all of it. Then the &@£$%$ thing broke again and chewed up a sleeve.

The whole thing got shoved in a carrier bag and back into the UFO pile for another good few months. I have no idea why but a few weeks ago it began to niggle at me - I could feel its presence in the cupboard calling out like some weird telepathic tribble.

Time to bring it out again and deal... to finish or not to finish it, that was the question. Expensive fabric and a £250 bill for repairs makes this hands down THE  MOST EXPENSIVE NON-CARDIGAN in the known universe. This is what £300 looks like people...... :(

I'm an avid fan of Yoga with Adriene (bear with me there is relevance here) and I received an email with the phrase "Out with that which once served but no longer has a place. In with practices that serve, me now." This resonated a bit as this year personally has been one hell of an ordeal and overhaul and I like the notion of just bringing some calm back - but also in respect to all these things we hang on to just because we feel we have to, but serves no real joy. 

OUT THE CARDIGAN WENT. Free from its fluffy shackles it was released back into the wild and donated for recycling of threads to be reincarnated into some other state. God speed fluffy pile of fabric, god speed. May you warm the feet of some other soul in the form of socks...

All was not lost then, it left a parting gift of wisdom. So thank you dear fluffy nightmare, for you have taught me well...some things just do not work out the way we want. Walk on. 

Amateur dramatics aside, I'm still not sure how I feel about making heavier knitwear. For a start, and despite my disaster of an attempt, any kind of sweater knit style fabric seems to be very scarce and hard to find. It's also very expensive when you do find it - so in the end its probably costing way more than a really good quality RTW would - which I know is not the point has some relevance. I love a good cable knit sweater or cosy cardy, I'm just not sure making them is the way forward for me yet.

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When in Rome...Orageuse

Rome is where the heart is....and I bloody love this bird shirt. However it did take a fair bit of labour to get there...

This is the first pattern I have tried from French company 'Orageuse' (which I think means 'Stormy') and... it was an experience! Although not entirely unpleasant...just...weird?

Fabric and notions: This incredibly amazing crepe is from Fabrics Galore - 'Bird Portrait'. The bug buttons (yeah I though birds eating bugs was a nice whimsical feature of this shirt :) are from Textile Garden (absolute amazing stuff if you haven't shopped there before!)

Size: I graded between sizes 42 bust, 44 waist and 46 hips. That was the largest size on the chart :( I know French ladies are beautiful and slim but that did strike me as a bit odd (I'm a UK 12).

As I'm new to this company I did do a toile to test the fit - you never know do you how indie brands differ. To my surprise the toile fit like a dream so that was that I thought. I even managed my first ever pin tucks at the back yoke. (A particularly nice design detail about this shirt).

Stuff that went awry: No joke I spent HOURS cutting this out to make sure everything was lined up, pattern matched, not slipping...just so. Despite my best efforts when I came to put it together it was

The armholes were huge! Down to my waist huge. Visible side boob. However I hadn't noticed this fact until I'd beautifully bound them with green satin. I have no idea why they were huge, same pattern piece, same cutting, same size as toile. Mystery. Rescue plan: I nipped them in where they should have sat and created a tapered dart down the side seam. As the shirt is quite voluminous it could take it. Phew.

In fixing the armholes and trimming excess for 'french' seaming - I cut a hole in the back :( Rescue plan: I stuck it together with interfacing on the back and hand stitched it together. As the print is quite busy it seems to get lost. Also phew.


The measurements and birds defy all known laws of physics. When I went to shorten the shirt - I measured very carefully each side, counted the rows of birds, and cut. But its uneven on one side!!! I still have no idea what's going on there. There are equal bird rows and equal measurements front and back. EQUAL. So how does the left side hang lower?? Oh well - you can't really tell due to drape so never mind. Rescue plan: Leave it the hell alone.

Ordinarily all these quirks would bother me but I actually still really like the shirt once it was done!

Modifications:  My version of the shirt is not exactly what the pattern intended but it is what I wanted. This is what I altered:
  • Regular button placket - I like buttons so I don't want them hidden, the centre section of the placket therefore got removed and I just popped the plackets on like a normal shirt
  • Yoke - the pattern only provides for one yoke piece. It's not lined. Given that there is a load of pleating in the back piece, it seemed a bit weird to have those raw edges hanging out so I created an inner yoke to enclose all the raw edges - Burrito Method!!
  • Yoke had to be cut in 2 pieces to create a shoulder seam. The pattern has one continuous yoke - if your print is directional its going to be upside down on the front of the shirt as the yoke goes over front to back without shoulder seams. I discovered this with the inner piece!
  •  I originally cut the dress length - intending to wear it as a tunic. In the toile I made this was about right - however in its shape shifting state the real version was too long and I ended up cutting about 5 inches off to just below the original shirt line anyway.
  • Shaped hem - I curved the hem at the sides instead of having the side slits. Part happy accident, part not understanding the instructions.  
  • Narrow rolled hem (as I feared taking off too much length)
Yoke - see what I mean about direction??
Personally I found the instructions to be a bit confusingly complex in some parts and and a bit vague in others. That being said I didn't really read them and just ploughed ahead with my own construction for the best part of it - so not sure I get much of an opinion on that one! Just for example though, the instructions state 'sew the side seams with a french seam'. That's all very well but there are 2 vent slits either side of the shirt and there's no instruction on how to actually deal with those or get a neat finish. Conveniently I had chopped off some of the length anyway so side slits were not an option anymore!

Overall: although it took what felt like forever to finish this seemly straight forward pattern and many things were wonky - I love it and would definitely make it again! This meets my criteria for being comfortable, practical but also a bit stylish/bit quirky. I like that the sleeveless design gives a good warm weather option, but great to under a cosy knit. And it covers your bum when wearing leggings - bonus.

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Norwich Sewcials did Great British Sewing Bee Live!

Just over a year ago myself and The Fabric Wrangler decided we'd start up a little group called Norwich Sewcials. Just a little chance for anyone that liked sewing to get together for coffee and chat about our hobbies... little did we expect that over the course of the year so many people would join, help and bring together our great little community.

When the Great British Sewing Bee Live event was announced, of course we wanted to go...but what started with a small trip out turned into..."shall we get a coach trip going?" A little ambitious to say the least but over the course of 3 months we sold out and filled our bus! What a lovely show of support and an exciting prospect.

Off we went on the first day of the exhibition, such an early start but tea service and raffle on board for the journey!

I'm sure so many of you out there got to visit at Excel and there will be so many similar blog posts but I thought it was certainly worth a mention. The day was little short of exceptional!

It was my first time at Excel and the venue was incredibly, so huge! Perfect for packing in all that sewing action... Particular highlights for me would be seeing sewing friends Eliza Sew Little and Melissa Fehr looking awesome in their sports gear. Within about 2 minutes of arriving I had made my first purchase...a pre-order of her new activewear book! Checking in with the Fold Line girls and seeing familar faces from the Sewing Weekender was so much fun.

There was a huge array of fabric stalls, which rather nicely were not repetative at all, they all had something unique to offer which was a very nice touch. 15 minutes into the day I had blown my budget at Fabrics Galore on a variety of novelty prints! (Ooops...although that was somewhat inevitable). Although we didnt see the main show, we did see Jenny Eclair and Patrick Grant!

I was introduced to Higgs and Higgs by my friends who had discovered them on Instagram. Not sure how they had passed me by to date as their fabrics were so beautiful. I picked up some amazing scandi geometric cotton to make a christmas throw. (Bottom left pic)

Another highlight for me was discovering The Arty Crafty Place who were running Indian block printing workshops and selling their kits. Those ladies were fabulous and realy took the time to explain their products, making bespoke kits with whatever print you fancied! I chose these rather hilarious chickens.

In addition to shopping there were some excellent exhibits including vintage handmade items which were exquisite, modern creations and makes from a variety of schools and colleges. In the pic below the dress on the right was from 1930 and had hand cut applique all around the neckline.

Fashion shows took place which were fun to watch and there was a neighbouring champagne bar! (The Fabric Wrangler seemed to be enjoying that one ;) Fuelled by chicken burger and a cuppa we powered on throughout the day right until 5pm when it was time to hed back to the coach.

An excellent day made better by seeing everyone climb back aboard smiling but tired... it was definitely a quieter journey back home!

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