The elusive white whale…

“Call me, Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world…”

‘Moby-Dick; or, The Whale’ by Herman Melville

20131112-130419.jpgI have a habit of buying books that I don’t intend to read straight away, but that I plan to read at some undefined moment in time when the feeling is right.  I think this tic comes from having worked in places where literally thousands of books everyday pass through your hands so you can’t remember the names and titles of the ones that look interesting!  As I used to work for Borders Books and later on, the British Library, I now have rather a lot of books bought with either a massive discount or given away free (I used to run events for Borders and the freebies were AMAZING!) and I don’t seem to be able to get myself out of the habit.  20131112-132022.jpgMy copy of ‘Moby-Dick’ was bought when I lived in Japan, and, yes, part of the reason I bought that particular version was because I loved the re-designed Penguin Classics cover.  However, I had completely forgotten I had it until very recently when my husband picked it up to take to Langkawi.  This in turn reminded me of some fabric I had stashed away (hoarding tendencies?!) featuring a slightly less ferocious white whale!  I’ve wanted to make a long-sleeved top for a while (Singapore’s obsession with air-conditioning can be pretty freezing) and had the Airelle pattern gnawing away at my brain, so this was the perfect opportunity to put these obsessions to rest!

20131112-130441.jpgThe Airelle pattern by Deer and Doe seems to have been made by half the sewing community and there are some beautiful versions out there, but I particularly love Rachel’s beautiful bright version, Paunnet’s man’s shirt refashion, and Gigette’s Airelle with peter-pan collar.  As the original pattern has quite an angular collar, I decided to curve mine to mirror the curviness of the whale’s bodies.  I did this very simply by eye and settled on a deep curve which I think works well with this fabric.  The fabric is a very light and crispy cotton poplin that I think it meant to be used for children’s clothes!  However, I liked it too much to pass over the chance and swiftly bought two metres!  20131112-125940.jpgAs the whale print is rather busy, I decided not to complicate matters further by adding contrasting cuffs and collars, but I did use bright yellow piping to accentuate the seam lines.  I had thought to add some to the collar as it can be quite tricky to see against all that pattern, but in retrospect, I think it may have been too much if I had.

20131112-125958.jpgThe pattern itself is very easy to put together and I used french seams where possible.  As is usual with any Deer and Doe pattern, each stage is clearly explained and illustrated, and the pattern pieces are very well drafted.  This shirt has lots of little details that give it a certain amount of elegance (especially important when you are using kid’s print fabric!), but my favourite is the little tucks at the shoulder.

Holding down the unruly collar!

Holding down the unruly collar!

I considered sewing down the collar because it kept jumping up at odd angles, but after pressing, it seems to be lying flat, so I haven’t needed to do so.  The fit around my chest is rather tight and it is a bit of a struggle to take off (!), so I think I need to do a FBA (full bust adjustment) next time I make this.  I really need to look into exactly how to do so because my idea of it is rather hazy…  Other than that, Airelle fits me straight out of the packet which is yet another reason to love Eleonore’s designs!

Apologies for the mad state of my hair in these photos – it tends to go rather wild if I don’t pin it down with a hairband for a few hours!  20131112-083122.jpgThat, and I think I may need a cut…!  Anyway, I had better return to the never-ending jumper knitting!  I am now almost finished with the first sleeve of my Dad’s stripy jumper, and waiting for the wool to arrive for my Mum’s Blaithin!  Right now  I have some pretty impressive callouses on my finger tips from all that knitting!  After I’ve finished though, it might just be the right time to read ‘Moby Dick’…


40 responses to “The elusive white whale…

    • Thanks, Rach! I wasn’t sure if the collar’d work out, so it’s great to hear that! I do love my bright colours even if I only get to slip a little in…! 😉

  1. It might be kids fabric but it looks amazing! I think the fact it’s a lovely serious shade of blue is just brilliant. The piping is perfect, it’s my favourite detail 😉

  2. Ah, the wale… My PB is reading it at the moment (“the moment” being the last 1.5 years) and it looks like a lot of work! (As a former literature student I have given up on reading).
    I looooove the fabric, though! Should start growing confidence and make clothes from fun prints as well!

    • Oh no! Given up reading? I don’t think I could ever do that! I’m sure he’ll get there in the end – maybe he just needs a sunny beach holiday to get stuck in to it?

      Isn’t it the most cheerful fabric ever?! I think I need to make more solid colour things to go with all my prints, so we definitely need to swap lives! 😉

      • Well, not given up entirely, but I read decidedly less than I used in my teens. Now it’s maybe one to two books a year, whereas it used to be about one a week. I know it’s weird, especially because I’m a librarian, and I just don’t fit this stereotype. 😀

        I think studying something you love doing (like literature, or painting, or sewing) is a bit dangerous, as it might take away the naive joy of it. Now I tend to analyse the story structure, or narrative devices in the back of my head when reading, which kind of takes me out of fully experiencing the story. 😦
        (Sorry for ranting…)

        I will confer with my PB to see if he’d like to swap for a while. 😉 Alternatively, we could set each other a “Sew Bossy” challenge…

      • I didn’t know you were a librarian! How cool! I loved working in a library, especially as I got lots of time to read early in the morning… I was trying to write my thesis too though, so it wasn’t the most relaxing of times! I completely understand why reading isn’t so much fun after you start analyzing every last line – I guess it must be like when I watch ‘Troy’ or ‘300’ – I can see all the anachronisms & they make me so cross! It makes me glad I swapped doing so much Ancient Greek for archaeology…!

        I’ve just looked up Sew Bossy and it sounds like a great idea! I’d definitely be up for it, but I can’t guarantee it’ll all be sewn up before Christmas (although I will definitely try my best!) – is that okay? I’ll try to resist the urge to send you some fabric with suns & tropical plan trees on it… 😉 🌴☀️🌴🍉🍍

      • That’s totally fine! As you can probably guess, I’m pretty busy at the moment as well (all those Christmas presents…). Plus I really want to send you good quality stuff and therefore *have* to go fabric shopping for you in Rome (where I’ll be from December 14) So let’s postpone to 2014?
        I would loooove a crazy print, just to kick me into colour and fun!
        Have a nice weekend!
        ❄ ❉❋

      • Grrrr! Christmas presents! My hands are in tatters with all the knitting and I STILL haven’t finished! Aargh!
        Ooh! Rome! How exciting! Are you spending Christmas there or moving? I went there years & years ago and fell in love with Nero’s spooky underground palace! Fabric from Rome & you sounds AMAZING! Maybe you can make me a little more sophisticated & I can make you all crazy with bright colourful prints?! I think we’ll have lots of fun either way! 2014 here we come (if I ever finish this knitting… 😰)!
        Hope you have a great time & sorry for being so tardy with a reply! ☀️☀️☀️

      • Yes, blasted presents! At least I onlz decided to knit 1 sweater, but even that proves to be too much… (I’m new to knitting bigger things for deadlines…)
        Unfortunately we’re only visiting Rome. My boyfriend’s parents live there. I’ll also quickly visit my family in Switzerland, so busy Christmas ahead!
        I’ll try with getting a bit crazy, we’ll see how this’ll work. But I have no doubt it’ll be lots of fun! 😀
        Good luck with that knitting! ❃ ✺ ❇ ❈

      • Wow! It sounds like you’ve a very busy Christmas coming up! I think I may have over-estimated how fast I can knit too – all the finishing that takes ages and I think I’ve run out of steam…! I’m sure you’ll get the jumper done & all the travelling means you can do lots of knitting while waiting (I always plan to do this, but it never ever happens because I’m too easily distracted!). Good luck too! Excited about Sew Bossy! 😄🌴☀️

  3. Oooh, I love this blouse! So cute! I have a bit of a whale obsession and, funnily enough, I grabbed my copy of “Moby-Dick” to read on the train this morning (I’d set it aside for a few months and finished my other book Saturday). I really love the print– it’s adorable!

    • Ha ha! How strange! Clearly yesterday was a whale of a day (sorry! I couldn’t help myself!)! I’m really looking forward to reading my copy, but I have a few too many books on the go right now 😔 But soon! Whales are too awesome to sit (swim?) on shelves!

      Thank you for the sweet comments! 😊

    • I ❤️ your enthusiasm! The fabric is a dark blue/purple colour – I don’t think I have too many black things in my wardrobe! 😉 Thank you for all the mutual encouragement! I can’t wait to see your blog post on your yarn dyeing!

    • Oh! Thank you so much, Eva! I really need all the luck I can get with this jumper! Why are sleeves so long?! *sigh* It’s rare I make something so practical, although that doesn’t stop me from wearing all the impractical clothes I make… 😉

  4. Yay for piping!! And I do love Moby Dick. It’s my husband’s favorite book and during our courtship I had to read his favorite and he had to read mine (Steinbeck’s East of Eden). I love the scene where they go to the seaman’s chapel. Maybe I need to track down from whale fabric for him . . .

    • What a neat idea! I do love Steinbeck, but I’ve not read ‘East of Eden’ yet – another one to add to my (rather long) list! I will definitely look out for the seaman’s chapel in ‘Moby Dick’ too! And yes, I think I may be a little piping obsessed now… 😉

    • Thanks, Kessa! My hair is much shorter now, thanks to a super cheap student haircut! I still don’t look too tidy though – I think it’s naturally very wild! 🙂

    • I’m still here! I’ve not had chance to read blogs for a while, but I most certainly am going to come back sometime soon! Thank you very much for the nomination! I’m not terribly sure what a Liebster Award is, but I am very happy to be nominated! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Is it fitting?·

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