Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Christmas jeans and things

Here's a mini round-up of some of the sewing and gift making I've been working on this month.

I set myself a list at the beginning of, or just before the start of December of things I would like to make for Christmas this year. It was a fairly big list (for me) and I ticked off most of it, but it was not set in stone so I was not really under much 'real' pressure.

The last thing I made and the one I was putting off most were some jeans for my husband. This was actually the only real item that I definitely wanted to complete and the one I added the most pressure to. Here they are in action!!!! We are decorating the living room as we speak and I didn't have the heart to make him stop for photos.

The pattern is the Jedediah pants pattern with mods to make them more 'jeansy'. I knew from the shorts I made him over the summer that the sizing was generous, so I removed some width from the waist to hip area straight away, as well as widening the bottom hem (James had previously expressed that he was not keen on too slim a leg). I also created new shaping to the front pocket and drew a new pocket facing. I did also spread the pocket bag at the centre by a few centimetres to make it a bit more roomy whilst I was there.

The only other thing of note was to reduce the seat curve and make it less sharp. I thought that jeans could benefit with a bit more room, so I made it similar in shape to James' RTW jeans.

I had some last minute concerns after I was informed that I was referencing the 'wrong' RTW jeans from our wardrobe, but they fit!!! There is some pulling at the front pocket where I perhaps took too much from the sides, but he says they are comfy and I'm calling them a success. They have been worn every day since Christmas day so what more could I ask for? The t-shirt is also part of his pressie and is the Metro T-shirt.

BTW, the topstitching was done threading two spools of gutterman all purpose thread through the machine and actually worked better for me than using the thicker standard topstitch thread and looks a lot softer. The denim is a lovely fabric bought from Goldhawk road when I met Jo and I wish I had much moooore.

I made two t-shirt twin packs. One for James and one for my dad, as well as several tops for the kids and put little ribbon labels in them all. This cute space ribbon is from Textile garden, which is fab for cute haberdashery.

For the kids I made various bits and bobs, but one of the things I'm really pleased with is these simple blankets. The top fabric is part of Lizzy Houses Natural History collection from Backstitch shop. The butterflies are for Maria and the Dinos for Evan. I really love that they come in the same colourway, but are different designs and I'm pleased to report that they are permanent fixtures on their beds! My two definitely like comforters and things to snuggle up with, so I was hoping they would like these.

Lots of dinosaurs flying about this Christmas and here is Evan with his favourite toy from Santa (a roaring T-rex) and their new dino PJ's.

I made some other things too which I won't bore you with, but overall it seemed to hit the mark!

One thing I didn't have time to finish was this little play house. It took four coats of paint to cover any marks from it's previous use as bathroom cabinets and I really just ran out of time. You can faintly see on the stairs two chocolate coins and two balloons for blowing up, which is what the kids first saw on Christmas morning. They had a little play with this and then after breakfast we went to get the good stuff (the real toys) under the tree. Luckily kids are oblivious to a lot of things and loved this dolls house even in it's very simple state. I really look forward to helping them add to it over the coming year, but need to remember it's theirs and not mine...

Really looking forward to the new year and I hope all your Christmas crafting went to plan! xxx

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas sew over it shirt dress

Before this dress goes into the wash and it's blogging possibilities vanish forever I thought I would just get some photographic proof of my lovely new Christmas dress. I left the job of taking the photos to my husband and they were done in less than a minute, indoors with crap natural daylight so here you go!

I bought this fabric (apparently liberty brushed cotton twill) on Goldhawk road from a shop which will close down in the new year. It is so perfect for a Christmas dress it's ridiculous and I just couldn't walk away from it. Sew over it started stocking it too, but I believe they have sold out now. Lisa Comfort of 'sew over it' particularly liked it and made a vintage shirt dress from it, which I liked so much I decided to completely copy. Well, I did add grey contrast cuffs and lapels so it's not exactly the same...

What a comfy dress to wear today. I love the amount of ease throughout the waist, which is great when you are planning on eating a lot, but the shoulders and sleeves are well fitted so it does not feel too big overall. I did lengthen it quite a lot as the pattern as drafted is far too short for my tastes.

I imagine that the fit is probably not what most people would expect from the cover art as it gives the impression of a more fitted bodice. Personally it suits me perfectly, but if you are looking for a closer silhouette then definitely size down from the bust to waist.

I chose some grey buttons to go with the contrast fabric and I really like how they pop out of the dress.

Verdict = very happy with dress, fabric and pattern and can see myself wearing this a lot! The shoes are my Christmas present and I'm fairly in love with them too. Good old Clarks shoes ;-)

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Xmas crafting - Printed fox cushions

How busy are you at the moment? I have decided to take on a crazy list of crafting for Christmas this year. The kids are both able to get excited about it and I am really enjoying making them pressies. We do not go overboard in this house at Christmas time or birthdays, but I really love pouring my energies into gifts for family and friends. It's so satisfying to hand over gifts that I have spent time thinking about and putting together. My parents are used to this, as I have always made them stuff, but I want my kids to grow up with an appreciation for the things I make for them too. With all that said, this next make is very last minute and not in 'the plan'.

I have been following Zeena Shah on Instagram for a while now and knew I would end up buying her new print book when she announced it's release earlier this year (is it me or has this year been great for craft books?). It's called How to print fabric and the projects are a mix of very simple and more advanced techniques.

I love the fact that Zeena really encourages you to look at objects as printing tools that you just have lying around. I am not really a print novice so I am using the book as inspiration for project ideas, but if you are a complete beginner then there are definitely projects that you can carry out with very few materials. This one is a cute project for a bean bag and the pattern is literally brushed on with ink and a paint brush. Simple!

Back to my first project from the book though hey? My son sat with me flicking through the pages and immediately fell in love with the fox print cushion. The book arrived through my door on Monday so of course it made sense that I wanted to make my two a cushion each by Christmas day on Friday (as well as make my husbands jeans, clean the house etc...).

A quick note - The fox cushion is probably one of the more complex projects and requires a bit of an investment in equipment, but I'm sure you could achieve a great finish with the suggested freezer paper stencil and a sponge. You could just sponge the ink on instead of screen printing.

The book suggests making a stencil out of freezer paper, but because I wanted to make two cushions and potentially make more as future gifts I cut mine from some firm, wipe able plastic sheets. I had to alter the design slightly for this method so that there were connectors in the stencil to keep everything in place. The freezer paper method relies on you arranging the design elements on fabric before printing, so it's not all connected as one piece. My stencil was to be taped to the silk screen, so I just had to adjust it so all the elements were connected. These were my stencils.

I am so pleased with how they turned out! I did a three colour print by masking off areas of the second stencil, printing a colour and then after cleaning remove the masks and mask off the rest for a different colour.

Now you may notice they are slightly different from one another. I had a bit of an accident when printing an eye and it went really smudgy. At first I was really annoyed and was pondering what to do, but then thought of printing an eye patch and it's become a happy accident. It means that Evan and Maria will definitely know which one is theirs!

I didn't add a zip to the cushion, but just hand sewed it shut along the bottom.

Even though I've made myself super busy I really enjoyed this project. I'm looking forward to creating some more stencils using a similar colour separation for some pictures or more cushions. The fox kind of reminds me of some quilting blocks I've seen lately which makes me think a quilt with printed foxes would look amazing! What do you reckon?

Ta ra for now and happy Christmas crafting!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Kate Davies Epistropheid hat

My winter hat!

I wanted to knit myself a hat this year, as I have to walk a lot and wanted the option for head warmth (even though it's really mild here in the UK actually). I really like colour work and looked for a pattern based on that! I headed straight over to Kate Davies ravelry store actually as I love her designs and bought this pattern.

The pattern calls for DK yarn and I was ordering yarn for a jumper, so tagged some onto that. It is Drops Lima from Wool warehouse, which is so lovely to work with, really soft and available in loads of colours. The pom pom is made from some uber expensive yarn that I bought from a little knitting shop in Edinburgh a while ago. I went on an amazing week of wild camping with my husband and friends some years ago which finished up with a night in a hotel in Edinburgh where I bought this. It was £15 I think (the most expensive yarn I've ever bought) and I have been terrified to use it! It is a fluffy wool and angora mix I think and breaks easily as well as being really clingy and hard to unravel. It was a bad choice, but too beautiful to never use, so I turned it into the most luxurious pom pom there ever was.

I actually planned to knit a red and grey hat, but once I started working on my jumper I liked the yellow so much I stole some of my jumper yarn for the hat. Speaking of my jumper, here is a peek at what I'm working on. It's all a bit random and I'm building the design as I go, but it's so  much fun!

Other than that I have been working my way through some selfless sewing. My daughter had her second birthday last week, which mixed in with my Christmas crafting has been keeping me nice and busy. I am really enjoying it though. It's strangely soothing to be sewing for other people.

I hope you're all looking forward to Christmas this year! Lots of love xxxx

Friday, 20 November 2015

Guatemalan inspired cardigan

Hold onto your hats for some awkward posing! I still can't get used to this blog photo thing, but I can't deny that it's better for showing clothes so I do it anyway!
Here's my newest make and labour of love a hand knitted cardi! Why Guatemalan? Well the colourwork is inspired by some Guatemalan clothes I have inherited from my mum. I love central American textiles, but don't have many pieces and when ever I have been to Belize have found good stuff hard to come by, so naturally I knit some!

Why am I standing like I have a hunchback? Honestly, some photos are just cringe city...

I started this piece last winter in my keenness to design and knit. I made a couple of jumpers from scratch, pretty much writing the pattern as I went and I found the whole process quite therapeutic and fun. The knitting bug did not last past February however, so this was left in a box waiting for me to pick it up again. Next time I do that I really need to make a note of needles sizes, as I transferred my unfinished knitting onto a stitch holder at some point and made no reference of needles anywhere.

It is a simple drop shoulder v-font cardigan with colour work on front and back, patch pockets and cropped sleeves (I don't get on with full length sleeves).

I am really happy with the shape and despite the colour work this is a really simple pattern to work out.

There is a lot to love about this project. It really is everything I wanted it to be and was a real joy to make. It was also a great learning project and there are things I want to take onto my next one.
The good - I love the front and back and also the 1x1 rib neck band. I find this type of neck band the easiest to fit and the neatest finish.

 The bad - I did not plan the flow of the garment very well in terms of the relationship of the front and back and I'm not sure that as a whole it is very pleasing in design terms. I think that the back design should have run seamlessly from front to back or maybe eliminated completely with just the patch pockets as an overall detail and the castellation border just going round the bottom hems of the cardi or sleeves. These are not things that are bad enough to make me love it less, but definitely something to improve upon.

I already have wool for a new cardi or jumper and am currently swatching for stitches and patterns. So exciting! I'm looking forward to incorporating some lace stitches as they can be nice to knit. I do normally lean towards cables, but I'm learning that I don't enjoy wearing them so much as they can be bulky so have to seek new knitting highs ;-)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Knitting vs sewing

Hanging out on Instagram has shown me that a lot of us sewists switch between sewing and knitting. I love to knit and I am just picking it back up having not really touched it since last winter. For me it is definitely a seasonal past time and I am not someone who can knit all year round, especially since having a dedicated sewing space. I also never really shake the feeling of being new to knitting. I have mentioned before, but I have been sewing since I was very young and was very fortunate to have a mum who made her sewing things available to me. My mum can knit too and my Nan was an amazingly competent and skilled knitter, but for some reason I never got into it beyond learning to knit, purl, cast on and cast off. Had I realised at the time that this is pretty much all you need to know then maybe I would have got more into it, but I thought there was much more to it to do all the pretty stitches.

I sometimes secretly feel jealous of people who have knitted their whole lives because of all that knowledge they will have absorbed that will take me an age to catch up on. Sewing is like that for me I guess, in that I don't think sometimes I just do.

When I started knitting and crochet in my mid-twenties I really jumped in and sampled every stitch that interested me and read so many books, but I know I've got so much to learn. I used to incorporate knit into my uni designs quite a lot and often thought how much I would love to become a knitwear designer, but I don't think my confidence was ever there with it. Here is a coat project from my final year that is not too cringe worthy!

I am just coming to the end of a cardigan that I started last year that I am writing the pattern for as I knit it. When I say writing I do not mean that it is a pattern that will be published or even understood by another knitter, but I will probably use it as a base for other personal garment projects.

Sewing always comes first I suppose because I understand it and don't need refreshers to get back to it, but when I pick up my knitting I remember how much I love it and my imagination starts dreaming of all the projects I want to start before my interest fades for another year. At the moment I'm so eager and impatient to get things finished and started because I know it will be short lived and I feel reluctant to step near my sewing machine in case it takes me away completely.

What on earth is this ramble about? I have no idea, but I think it's an inner sadness that I always feel when I realise I don't have the capacity to continue with both disciplines side by side. For me it seems to be one or the other, but rarely both. I'm going to try and tackle that next year and see if I can have small knitting projects all set up to turn to on any sewing down time, but we'll see how that goes!

Happy Sunday and thanks for reading this randomness if you made it to the end! x

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Named Blair batwing jacket

Oooh, I sewed something...and it's not one of my patterns!!!

This here is my new favourite top pattern. It's not a new pattern, but rather new to me, the Blair batwing shirt by Named clothing. It's really simple and I've seen it made up on the internets before, but was eventually lured in to buy when they had a flash sale a couple of weeks ago. I need new pyjamas or house clothes and thought this made the perfect top for lounging. I was right because I immediately made a jersey version and have basically worn it everyday since! I plan to make more in jersey, but first had to give it a try in a woven and this is the result...

 I went on a fabulously fun and fabric filled day out to London this week to meet-up with the gorgeous Jo, Jenna and Jane (notice I'm the odd one out as the non 'J' name). One of the many fabrics I bought was this scrumptious quilted silk velvet. I only bought 1.5metres because that's all there was in this colour. The quantity definitely presented a challenge seeing's as it was very narrow, but I had in my head a bed jacket type thing. I have a vintage pink silk handmade bed jacket stashed away somewhere, which was the inspiration behind my final collection at uni, so this is a long standing love affair with the 'bed jacket'. There are some very cute quilted jacket patterns out there like this RDC one or this Grainline one, but I wanted a different shape and a bit more room. You must all know by now that I favour roomy silhouettes ;-)

 I didn't make a woven toile, but going from my jersey version (which has a relatively stable quality) I raised the neckline on the paper pattern pieces by 2cm at the front and the shoulders blending into the back, took 4cm off the hem and added 2cm to the centre front (plus seam allowance) for an overlap and to give me the option of adding a front fastening. I don't think I will add any front closure things, but it's nice to have options!

Construction was simple. I made an outer shell and lining shell and sewed the two together (rigt sides together) around the neck, centre fronts and bottom hem, but left a hole in the bottom hem so I could turn it back through. I machined the sleeve hems together before closing up the hole for minimal hand stitching. I did however under stitch the entire jacket by hand as silk velvet can be a tad tricksy and the less stressful and easier to control option was to do this by hand. I am pretty used to sewing with velvet from making plenty of curtains out of the stuff, so know how I want to handle it. Also the hand stitching gives a nice vintage feel to the whole thing!

The finished jacket is very light weight and soft and really easy to wear. I hope to wear it frequently rather than for special occasions. Silk velvet can seem a bit dressy or special, but it's too soft and scrummy to put away somewhere. I'm actually wearing it now and have been cuddling my snotty kids in it, doing the dishes etc... and it certainly makes me feel a bit like the queen of my house today!

Here I am wearing it with my Roberts dress and previously a Roberts jumpsuit made from some gorgeous Paul Smith shirting (sorry, but the Roberts pattern is officially my uniform). I want to wear the jacket with my PJ's, on the school run, to weddings and anywhere else I can possibly think of.

Look at those big sleeves!

I love this fabric so much, but it's impossible to convey it's texture and colour in a photo. Basically everyone should have some of this in their lives and roll around on it!

I didn't photograph this very well, but I did have to join in a small segment of fabric on the sleeve back because of the narrow fabric, but it is right under the arm and barely noticeable. 

This amazing lining is a fabulous viscose crepe from Regency rags and is also very vintage in feel as it is light and silky. The perfect marriage!

I really wanted to wait a while before blogging this to see if it is a 'real' hit, but I'm too excited and I think the fact that I'm already wearing it signals it must be. Do you find it's hard to tell sometimes? I often feel really excited after making something new, but then I can only really tell if it's really successful if I continue to reach for it.

Next up? I don't quite know yet. I'm not in desperate need of anything as I made a few Lindens last year that should come back into play now, as well as some Freemantle knits, which along with all my latest Roberts samples has kind of set me up for winter. PJ bottoms are NEEDED and I am going to use the Tilly and the Buttons pattern from her book, but other than that it's more sampling and maybe some selfless sewing. I'll be back soon I hope! x

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Roberts pattern - view C midi length

Hello, me again so soon!

Here is the midi length version of view C from my new Roberts pattern (link to pattern in side bar).

As I mentioned in the previous post I made some pattern modifications to this when I was sewing up the sample. Basically I had sewn this dress a gazillion times (no exaggeration) and I threw a sewing wobbly and flat out refused to make the front pockets from the pattern. I have two versions of this dress in this fabric already at the shorter length, 1 final and 1 before the final pattern changes, so this is the outcome of my rebellion.

I have omitted the side popper fastening completely as it goes over the head really easily and like I just mentioned I have sewn a plain skirt front with no side pockets. A dress with no pockets is not very practical though, so I instead added some slanted patch pockets. Not mega changes really, but it was enough to quench my thirst to sew something different.

I really like this length and can see it going really well with thick tights and ankle boots with maybe a striped t-shirt or thin jumper underneath.

Damn that twisted strap!!! I can't believe I didn't notice that!

Ok, I'm updating the post because that twisty strap is driving me crazy! Here's my non twisted strap and outfit of the day today!

I made a straight size 3 for this sample when I have previously graded out to a 4 at my thighs, but I think I will grade out to a 4 again for future versions. This is comfy and a nice fit, but I think I'd prefer a smidge more fabric there.

My measurements are:
bust - 94cm 37"
waist - 76cm 30"
hips - 99cm 39", but then the widest part of the top of my legs is actually 109cm 43". I don't much like admitting that bit!

If you want to get rid of the front pockets too then all you need to do is lay your pocket facing piece underneath the skirt front at the pocket opening, line up the notches and pin together to form an uninterrupted skirt front.


I'm not sure how visible this is, but I really like this over locked finish on the selvedges. More so on the trousers, but I threaded the needle threads in white and the other two threads in a coral colour. It looks nice when the trouser legs are turned up! Another nice finish for turn ups if your don't have an over locker is to bind the raw edges with a narrow binding.

In other news, the next issue of Love sewing magazine is out this week and I have a pattern in there!

It is an update to my free sailors top. The garment is no longer just made up of rectangles and triangles, the underarm gussets have gone completely and it is graded to more sizes. The sleeves are wider and although written for jersey is roomy enough to be made in a woven. I need to make up a woven version myself so that I can share it on here, but I love the sample in the magazine. It is made from a girl Charlee jersey, but I did not keep it as I made up a small size for the magazine. There was enough left over to whip up a top for me though and the colour of the stripes is gorgeous!

The free version is still available on my blog for any international sewists and I am wearing it in my little profile pic, but it is obviously a bit different! A great exercise in how you can make a pattern from the most simple of shapes!!!!