Sew: The Lemonade Skirt {A Cautionary Tale of Sewing with Cats & Some Sewing Drama}

Sew: The Lemonade Skirt {A Cautionary Tale of Sewing with Cats & Some Sewing Drama}

You know when you’re going to an event and you’ve planned an outfit but at the last minute you decide you need something new and different? If you sew, that probably means making something new. Unlike a quick shop for a new thing, sewing at the last minute can mean hand sewing the hem on the train and other follies. This is my tale of near disaster, last minute sewing & what ended up being a sensational skirt. Because when life gives you lemons, you make a Lemonade Skirt!

Let me set the scene….it’s Thursday morning, I’d planned on making a sheer overlay for an existing skirt but I needed a lace zipper. All sewing must be completed today, so I can wear what I’m making on Friday. I made coffee, finished up and posted a blog post and looked at the time. Damn my slow internet, I’m already running behind! I head out to Needleworks and grab my zipper.

I have a coffee table that converts to dining table. The dining table part is my only cutting out space, I don’t even have a section of floor that’s bigger. Pretty helpful, except the only place I can use my overlocker is at the coffee table, when its folded down. Some sewing days are a bit like a an episode of Transformers – furniture edition! So dining table comes up, sheer fabric is aligned, pattern is weighted. I decide I don’t want to wear this anyway and pack up the sheer fabric. ‘It’s cool’, I tell myself, there’s time. I head back to my stash.

  • I pull out this gorgeous taffeta, picked up in an earlier op shop haul, and wonder if it’s silk as I suspected.
  • Google burn test for silk, do a burn test, find out it actually is silk!
  • Get panicked, Google how to sew silk.
  • Decide I cannot just machine a hem, decide to line the skirt and use a lace bound hem.
  • Have no idea what to line it with, Google lining silk taffeta.
  • Silk organza seems to be the choice but I have none in my stash and only Spotlight to shop in.
  • Head to Spotlight for:Matching silk hand sewing thread, Organza lining, Hem Lace.

  • Spotlight is packed!
  • Search for a vibrant pink or green lace, come up empty and grab the only option, black.
  • Find a green silk sewing thread but not pink.
  • Grab a zipper for safety’s sake.
  • Head over to foul polyester organza and become agitated.
  • Have lovely conversation with older lady who loved my swatch of taffeta, she helps me select a pink organza.
  • Join cutting queue.
  • Once I am served, I find the roll only has 1.6m and I need a minimum of 2m.
  • Loose place in queue return to organza.
  • Find second roll, head back to counter.
  • 8 customers and two screaming toddlers later, I am triumphantly marching back to my car.

  • Cut out taffeta while listening to Gok Wan on TV.
  • I am super careful, it goes well, I start to breathe again.
  • Spend several years getting the poly organza to play nicely.
  • Lay out pattern and start cutting.
  • See all of my good work slide from table and a frightened cat running away at the sound of a gazillion pattern weights hitting hard wood floor.
  • Begin to scream out loud and then taper off to a gasp as I wonder what the downstairs neighbours have just heard.
  • Normal people would probably shut the cats out of the room but normal people don’t have hooks and stuff on the back of their doors, preventing them from closing.
  • Recover fabric as best I can and keep cutting.
  • Shoo cats away from remnants and send husband a text to say ‘I’ll be sewing till midnight, blame cat’.

  • Fold table back to coffee table, set up overlocker.
  • Pin lining at centre back seams and hem, with a view to overlocking them together as more of an interlining.
  • Pinning only in seam allowances, being careful, I get the whole 4m pinned.
  • Hold up to check that lining and fabric are the same.
  • They aren’t.
  • Fold table back up to dining size.
  • Lay it all out.
  • Half of lining is 1″ too short.
  • Glare at cat asleep in remnants.
  • Fold table back down, setup overlocker, un pin.

  • Loose confidence.
  • Decide I am out of my depth.
  • Overlock taffeta on centre back seams and hem.
  • Realize I didn’t test a scrap and tension is horrible.
  • Adjust and continue.
  • Repeat on organza, using overlocker to trim it shorter than the skirt.
  • Oh and even, well even-ish, this time.
  • Detect scent of failure.
  • Turn attention to waistband and decide iron on interfacing is probably not what people do.
  • Consult Google.
  • Silk organza or self fabric is the go.
  • Do not want to waste taffeta.
  • Remove sleeping cat from organza and cut waistband.
  • Overlock waistband and lining together on three sides.

  • Pin waistband, skirt and lining together.
  • Proceed to overlock.
  • Notice overlocker improperly trimming and weaving offcuts into overlock.
  • Remove sewing from overlocker.
  • Look inside and see overlocker is filthy.
  • Clean overlocker.
  • Test, all ok!
  • Resume waistband.
  • Decide today’s the day I must learn a hand picked zipper.
  • Consult Google and YouTube.
  • Husband arrives home to sewing chaos, mutters something about dinner and sequesters himself in bedroom.
  • Install first hand picked zipper.
  • Imperfect but pretty happy.
  • Oh yay! A win.
  • Try to show husband but he has noise canceling headphones on and pretends he cannot see me waving bright silk skirt.

  • Husband puts cooking show on TV, a clue perhaps?
  • Hand sew waistband to lining.
  • Admire hunk of cat fur trapped between waistband layers.
  • Thank myself for the silk thread.
  • Run out of thread 1 1/2″ before end of waistband.
  • Re thread and finish up.
  • Decide I might as well machine stitch lace to overlocked hem.
  • Decide I like it that way.
  • Finally done, except for a good press.
  • Sleep heavily, dreaming that all the real sewing ladies are laughing at me.

  • Request Mummy Asks assistance with pressing.
  • Advise her not to bring in her dogs, with two dogs and two cats, the opportunity for a pressing disaster seemed high.
  • Test iron settings on scraps.
  • Press skirt.
  • Halfway through, step backward onto cats tail.
  • Bump & bruise leg, nearly burn skirt.
  • Feel guilty as puffed up cat glares at me.
  • Wear skirt with previously made velvet top and feel fabulous!

That my friends, is the end of my long and sorry tale! It’s those moments you don’t see, where everything goes wrong. When I was beginning to sew, I thought other people knew exactly what they were doing but the truth is, even experienced sewists make mistakes. Lots of them, in my case! I’ve learned to keep cool and work out what to do next and that helps. I’d love to hear your sewing disasters, so please leave me a comment xxx


Second Look Sunday 23 November 14

Second Look Sunday 23 November 14 Second Look Sunday 23 November 14

Yesterday was my birthday and boy, have I been spoiled! The day before, Mummy Ask went nuts with decorations, little pressies, cake and cocktails. We had such fun and giggles! Last night, Mr Ask took me out for a sort progressive dinner and drinks arrangement. We nibbled & cocktailed around the Howling owl, Mothervine, Udaberry, Chihuahua, Street & Chocolat. We took a couple of those pedi cab/tuktuk things which were a blast! It’s like being in a chariot and all the people are smiling at you as you cruise around. 

I’m drink coffee in the house coat Mummy Ask gave me, trying to wake myself up and wondering how last nights glitter eyeliner can be everywhere after two face washes! For once the laundry is all done but we can never escape the fact that Sunday is bin night – sigh! I hope you’ve had a simply marvelous weekend, I know I have! Big thanks to Mummy Ask & Mr Ask for the irreverence, gifts, giggles and cocktails – you guys know how to have a good time xxxx

Happy Birthday To Me! {Thoughts on Turning 35}

Happy Birthday To Me! {Thoughts on Turning 35}
Saturday 22nd November marks my 35th birthday. I love birthdays, mine, yours, love them! I’m okay with getting older but 35 feels like something in a way 30 didn’t for me. 35 is proper, bona fide grown up age. I simply don’t feel grown up. I feel 16 but with a little more knowledge and experience. And 75% grey hair but that’s been going on for years. Mummy Ask once wrote about feeling 16 in her 40′s. I think it’s possible that we don’t grow up. At least, not in the way we imagine we will.

It’s strange that we imagine what life will be like when we’re older. Some of what I imagined is my now reality. Own quirky flat, nailed my personal style, have a feline or two. Some things are different than imagined. I got married, I don’t have an awesome corporate career, I did not make millions of dollars. But the end result is better, bigger, richer and much cooler than I could have imagined. For example: this blog, who would have thought that thousands of people would read stuff that I’ve written? Who knew I’d learn to sew and actually be okay at it? Who knew I could ever feel stable?

I feel like I can blow a big, fat raspberry at people who told me I would change my mind or that I was going through a phase or that I didn’t understand why my ideas were crap because I was too young. Controversial or not, these things are still my beliefs.
  • I’m still vegetarian, 28 years later.
  • I’m still a secular humanist.
  • I’m still a feminist.
  • I’m still an animal liberationist.
  • I still have no desire to reproduce.
  • I still vote left.
  • I still love my tattoos (& am sneakily planning one more).
  • I still think my nose piercing looks great.
  • I still think my career will take off (proof on that will be coming in the next few months, you’ll have to trust me for now).

Other things have changed. I have far less political passion and even where I do have it, I’m content to just draw my own line in the sand (as explained in this post). I am more forgiving of myself & others. Who knows why someone is holding up traffic, the supermarket queue or just annoying you. Maybe they fought with their partner this morning or are grieving for a loved one or carrying a tank of exotic fish or a reliving a better time as they tap a drum solo on their steering wheel. I can say no and not get knotted up about it. I know how to manage emergencies, mini, imaginary and very real. I’m less suggestible, I know what pleases me and I know how to meet my own needs. I am inquisitive, I seek knowledge in a thirsty way and know that knowledge does not equate to wisdom.

I feel like I live a life that matters but doesn’t assume. Sometimes it’s swanky, it’s often mundane and occasionally mind numbingly boring. I’m happy enough with me. I’ve invested a little time in dressing and making myself up to be who I’d like to be. And an awful lot of time working on the inside. Learning everything I can, going to therapy when I needed it, trying new things and allowing the occasional hour of introspection. The most real thing I have in my life are my connections with others. My wonderful husband, who has a most enquiring mind, an unshakeable practicality and the ability to bring me peace when I cannot find it. The amazing Bestie, who has loved me for 20 solid years, understands me when other can’t and has never put the dampeners  on my crazy plans. Mummy Ask, who never fails to mother when I need it, be my friend in between and be the bedrock of my schemes. But it’s not just connections with my trio of trouble, it’s every single one of you! Among those reading this, there are family and friends, loosely connected acquaintances and complete strangers! Yeah, complete strangers who are supporting me by reading this blog! I just couldn’t be luckier!

When I said I love birthdays, I really do, they’re like your own personal New Years Eve! I always stay up till midnight the night before and toast in my birthday. For years, the night before my birthday, I would write out a list of things I wanted to achieve in the following year. I would seal it up and stash it until the following years birthday eve. Then I would open it and read it aloud. I would laugh and cry about how I’d gone and then start in on next years list. Instead, I shall blog my birthday and you can laugh and cry with me – okay? Thanks for hanging out this year.
Big Happy Birthdays to my Scorpio & Sagittarius lovelies xxx

P.S. This Years List

  • Create a perfectly fitting bodice sloper
  • Sew a proper formal dress
  • Publish a book/s
  • Be a better support person
  • Write for a magazine/s
  • Find & make Mr Asks perfect dessert
  • Get my skin tags removed
  • Add another cat to the family
And you’ll get to see how I go in a year!