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The Saga of Jai’s Jacket or Rolling with the Punches

It began with some lovely homespun from Kimbra and a ‘fluffy’ synthetic cardigan from the Kingston opshop. The yarn was dyed with my favourite Landscape ‘Wombat’, to which was added Bendigo ‘Classic Aubergine’ and ‘Rustic Earth Shade’. The woven strip was last year’s Poatina project, where the first hitch occurred.

As it came off the loom Tara kindly mentioned that homespun will shrink. Never having woven with homespun before, this came as a bit of a shock. Of course, she was right and I lost 4.5 inches, which meant a shortfall around the front. From then on I manipulated every scrap of the old cardigan to create the wider lapels I now needed.

At Bicheno the cotton lining was added (an old summer skirt) and all I had to do was sew it together. Ha! Hand-sewing seems to take sixteen times longer than using a machine, but it did end – rather abruptly. So much handling meant the recycled ‘fluffy’ fabric began to visibly wilt, and so weak I thought my thumbs would go through it at any moment. All that work for something I couldn’t wear! So I slept on it, and the next morning unpicked the seams holding the weaving. The top part went in with the rubbish so I would not be tempted to re-recycle it. Long story short, I raided my stash and found a heavier piece of gun-metal grey fabric, a synthetic warp with a cotton weft.

It was dyed with Rit ‘Cocoa Brown’ and the new colour worked with the weaving – so lucky. Next I made a toile from an old sheet to get the size right, cut out the dyed fabric, and added random patches of couching in the same yarns to further integrate the fabric with the weaving. In the spirit of zero-waste, the underarm strips became the lapels and a rich red lining of inexpensive cotton broadcloth was added. With no pattern and even less dress-making experience, I finally produced my jacket – adding a matching crocheted neck warmer and cuffs for winter.

So it can be done – by diving in and rolling with the punches!! Many thanks to Kaye for the button-holing, to Annie and Bronwyn for the photography and to Di for the garden setting. The buttons are from Sew’n’Sew at Latrobe.

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