Friday, 30 January 2015

Eley Kishimoto dress and Linden swap!

This month I have had the pleasure of participating in the Linden swap hosted by Carrie and Ingrid. I asked Ute if she would be up for it and I received an amazing package in the post last week. Ute totally got my style and made me a sweatshirt out of a really cool virgin wool knit with cotton ribbing. I seriously don't know where she finds such nice fabrics. Are there better fabric choices in Germany? I've never even come across wool jersey here in the UK, let alone one with such an interesting design, but maybe I need to shop further afield!!!!

I really struggled taking pictures of this as it's so dark outside and I am wearing all dark colours, so I have had a play with the colour levels, which hopefully doesn't make it look too weird. This green wall is actually a photographing nightmare!!!
As well as this beauty Ute had also included a German magazine, which I am unable to read, but is so inspiring. It includes three patterns inside, one of them being this Eley Kishimoto dress. Yes, I have made this already! I happen to love the work of the designers and this particular style is similar in aesthetic to the Japanese sewing book styles I am also fond of. A uni friend Rhian did some work experience with Eley Kishimoto and she took me along to their studio one day as they loaned her some shoes for her final collection. I was able to go into their archive cupboard and have a good look through. That was a great day!

Here is my version of the dress. I made it up in this bargainous sweatshirt fabric. I love how it's been drafted in just two pieces, but the cape sleeve wraps around to the front. The stripes are perfect for this as it highlights the simplicity of the lines.

I made a new pair of Alice tights to go with, natch!
It is quite clingy on the hips because of the sticky sweater knit, so I'm going to have to break out the slip. 

Love, love, love it!

The other two patterns included in the magazine are a coat and bag. I really think the styling is so cool and it makes me want to make the things even though I don't need the things! I wish that more sewing mags looked like this, as this is what I would buy into.

Thanks Ute for being the best swap partner! xxxx

Sunday, 25 January 2015

My vintage pattern pledge!

I am going to take my vintage pattern pledge a lot more seriously this year. Last year I pledged to sew up three patterns and only managed one, but sewed it up three times (two unblogged) and therefore persuaded myself that I had completed my challenge. This year it is hosted by Kerry and Marie and I am going to be far more rigid (in theory) about my approach. I plan to make at least one item from the following three patterns.

These patterns were sent to me by Cat of Sewing the 60's blog in exchange for some fabric and I am so looking forward to making something. That top one is actually one that she wanted to keep, so she has traced mine by hand and printed the cover envelope and instructions, which makes it even more special!!!

I don't know when or where I'll start, but I've got the whole year to formulate some ideas. How hard can it be??? Ok, so we all know it's hard sticking to a sewing plan, but I really want to try and complete this challenge properly.

Two Maya shirt dresses for the new year!

Here are a couple of Maya dresses that I made as part of the Autumn of 1000 shirtdresses challenge hosted by Idle Fancy. I was in two minds whether or not to blog them as a) I make a lot of Maya dresses and maybe you don't want to see them all and b) I didn't get very good pictures the first time around and only re-photographed one of them. In reading this you'll guess that I decided to go with the post!!!!

I have not been sewing quite so much lately, as knitting is on my mind and I think I am in the grip of a January sewing block. Whenever I approach my sewing area all I can think of is how much stuff I have and how much I want a clear out. It's that start of a new year, out with the old and useless type of thing and is making me veeery un-productive. I have been clearing out unwanted fabric that I will never use and plan to go through sewing and knitting patterns and at least halve my collections if not more.

These dresses are part of that feeling I suppose, as they are both made up of precious fabrics that I did not want languishing in my fabric stash a moment longer. Sometimes a sense of importance gets attached to certain fabrics and the pressure becomes too great when it comes to assigning them a project, so the Maya dress is my fail safe.

This dress is made from a Robert Kaufman chambray I ordered from The Village Haberdashery. They don't seem to have it anymore  but they do have some other lovely ones. It is quite expensive (for me), so I ordered 1.5 metres and squeezed this dress out of it with only minimal waste. I even had to exaggerate the curved hem in order to fit the front and back on, as well as obtain a pattern match. I was willing to sacrifice the dress for a blouse if I couldn't pattern match, as it seems a shame not to make the most of fabric that was an investment of sorts.

Anyway, I couldn't be more pleased with it and it's definitely a good all year round dress! It's perhaps a bit stiffer than what this pattern requires, but hopefully it'll soften with washing. I am wearing it with my grey jersey Alice tights and taupe suede boots and I love the neutral vibe of it all together.

I did mention two dresses didn't I??? Here's a picture of the second. I bought this Liberty cotton twill from Shaukat last summer when I went there with Jenna. I was dithering about it because I'd already seen that Katie had bought some (in a different colourway) and was blatantly copying, but when something's this good you can't leave it behind. This fabric is such good quality however that it is definitely too stiff for this dress. It's still a winner and definitely a new go to dress, but hopefully the wearing will do it good! You can't see the buttons very well, but these were reclaimed from an old shirt dress of my mums, so it feels great to re-use them. I placed the pocket just below my hips on this one for convenient tissue carrying.

Here's a close up of the print which was also used to line the bib of my Merchant and Mills dress.

I guess the benefit of paying a bit more is that I am much more economical with my fabrics and the scraps are minimal to say the least, but I can't afford to shop like this normally. Two very special dresses to start the year with though, so I am pretty chuffed!

By the look of this lot I am going for a very washed out colour palette this year!!!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Threading up your overlocker for tights!

I have just come across this blog post by Lauren at Lladybird and it's brilliant, as she explains that she only used a three thread overlock stitch to make up some Seamster Rose hip tights. I do not instruct this for my own pattern, but this is how I always use my overlocker, as I don't like to waste thread.

It's dead easy, as you just remove the thread from the outside needle. I don't even know the last time I had that threaded and there is half a broken needle on the outside position that I have never bothered to remove (lazy).

It definitely sews a finer seam, which is ideal for tights or close fitting garments and is (in my opinion) just as strong as a four thread overlock stitch, but you do have to be more careful about catching both layers as the stitch obviously has less reach into the seam.

I hope this helps!

Merchant and Mills dress shirt - AKA my christmas pressie

For the first time ever I got a dress making pattern as a pressie! This time last year I had no idea there were so many fab patterns out there and now I am ticking off my wish list one by one. I have had my beady eye on this Merchant and Mills dress shirt for a while and it is so lovely to make it up knowing it was a gift. The double whammy is that I was gifted the fabric by the lovely Helen over at Just sew therapeutic, so was under pressure to make something I love (pressure of my own making).

Helen is one of the lovely sewists that I have gotten chatting to over the last 6 months and is so sweet. She has also very kindly tested two of my patterns for me and I hope that we shall eventually get to meet in person one day!!!! ;-)

So, the dress! I had been warned by the sewers of Instagram that this brand does come up large, but made up the straight size 12 and I'm happy with the fit. That's not to say I didn't make any changes, as I did encounter some issues with the back yoke gathers that needed some tampering. I basically have used a fabric that was much stiffer than recommended. This is a lovely beige cotton needle cord and the pattern clearly asks for something softer and if you don't want to deviate from the pattern then you do need to use a thinner cotton or linen. My fabric choice caused the gathers on the yoke to poke out and give me a hump back and the sleeves were nigh on impossible to ease in without having gathers.

I unpicked the yoke seam and created a long pleat in the centre back of the main piece and sewed down flat. I think that this is much more pleasing and may apply this to future versions as I have never found yoke gathers very flattering on me.

There was a lot of ease on the sleeve head, which I just could not fit in without a pucker somewhere, so made an executive decision for some 'feature' gathers on the top. I think it looks really pretty and there was enough excess for a decent amount of gathers.

The little box pleat is also a bit pokey outy in this fabric, so this may get removed on the next version.

I had some of this gorgeous Liberty cotton twill left over from another dress, which I used to line the front bib. I used the lining pattern piece for both sides of the bib, as I didn't fancy a seam down the centre front (also, marginally less sewing).

I am a big fan of this style and all in all this was a satisfying make. The changes I made as I went along were minor and all personal preference really. The overall roominess and the length are perfect for my style and this fabric is sooo soft. Need more cord in my wardrobe!!!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Completed cable jumper

I have finished another jumper!

I wrote about starting this project here and it has been really good fun to make. I have had a knitting epiphany since writing the patterns for my last two projects from scratch. It has made the process so much more fun and also made the prospect of using up my existing yarn stash much more achievable. I met up with some sewing friends at the weekend and as we were talking about knitting it occurred to me that the reason I find it difficult to dip into my wool stash is a lack of suitable patterns. I went through a phase some years ago of buying discontinued Rowan yarns in the sales. It worked out much cheaper, but then the patterns soon seemed out dated and not what I wanted to knit.

There are some beautiful modern knitting patterns out there that I am dying to try, but I rarely have the correct yarn and I really have too much to justify buying more, especially with the threat of moths that seem to be gunning for my woollens at the moment.

Back to this jumper though. I have to say that I was sitting on the fence about it when I first cast off, as I am unsure of the sleeve length. I feel that they should be shorter and at first  was adamant that they needed changing, but then I proceeded to wear it all day and then the day after that and again today, so I guess they don't bother me as much as I thought. In fact I have been rotating this and my sailors jumper since I finished them. That thing about the yarn stash and not buying any more didn't count for the sailors jumper, as I really wanted it!

The thing about making it up as you go along I find most satisfying is the ease of changing elements as and when you please. I started off with this narrow orange rib hem that got scrapped and replaced with a deeper self coloured rib. I then did the same kind of thing to the jumper front and started with a grey narrow rib border and was intending doing a split hem, but then scrapped that all in favour of the bog standard treatment I ended up with.

This is how I was wearing it today and yes, I do wear this outfit ALOT!

It's a good length for jeans, but maybe a tad too long for dresses, so I have plans for another. Oh yes, this knitting thing isn't going away just yet! I'm going to refer to my self drafted dart less block and make a boxy cropped jumper with set in sleeves and a scooped neckline I think. This could change, but for now that is what I am planning.

It feels so good to use this wool after carting it around for almost 10 years. That is a stupidly long time and I still have some of this left!!! I'm on a mission to use as much of this yarn as possible so am knitting my boy a matching jumper, but I fear I will still have some left. This stash busting is not as easy as it sounds...

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Altering RTW tights

I am happy to bin all the fashion tights that I have been hanging onto for years that never quite fit, but I have a couple of pairs of knitted tights that I am less keen to get rid of. I bought this Navy blue sparkle knit pair a couple of Christmases' ago and I admit that I bought the wrong size because I really wanted them. The L/XL had sold out, so I bought the S/M knowing that they were going to be too small and wore them anyway.

Question: If I am supposed to wear L/XL what hope is there for anyone larger than a UK size 14???


The solution was to make a new tights top, cut the legs from the original tights and sew the legs to the new tights top.
This is how I did it...
  1. Cut and make a shorts top using the pattern piece from VIEW A of my tights pattern.
  2. Put on your RTW tights and shorts top together so you can see what they are like on.
  3. Place a pin where the new seam would need to be using the shorts top as a guide.
  4. Take off all items and cut the legs off of the RTW tights straight across at the pin mark (it happened to be in line with the crotch for me).
  5. Flatten both the legs identifying the front and back and having the fold at the inside and outside leg.
  6. Turn the shorts top inside out and insert the tights legs with right sides together. Please check and make sure that the legs front and back are facing the right way before the next step.
  7. Line up the inside leg fold with the inside leg seam of the shorts top and pin and pull the outside leg fold to meet the outside leg of the shorts top and pin.
  8. Sew the legs in place stretching to fit the shorts top and that's it!
They will look pretty strange once you have finished, but once on they should be way more comfortable!

You obviously don't need my pattern for this, as this alteration can be achieved with an altered leggings pattern or you could even combine some old leggings that have seen better days with your tights by just chopping the legs off your old leggings a couple of inches below the crotch to make your new tights top.
This method can also work for tights that are too long. Put the tights on pulling the legs up as much as possible and measure the excess on the inside leg. If you are happy with the top area of the tights then just cut the legs off a couple of inches below the crotch and remove the excess length from the top of the legs. Re-attach new shortened legs to the original tights top for new non-sagging tights.
I hope that this was helpful!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Sewing socks

I am not sure if this is going to appeal or catch on in any way, but I have sewn some socks using my tights pattern. I have not used any additional pattern pieces, so this is a really simple way of making the most of your jersey scraps as you only need the smallest of fabric pieces.

Paper pattern pieces you will need are...
  • Foot from VIEW A - cut away from the main leg across the ankle
  • Heel turn piece from VIEW A
  • Leggings cuff from VIEW C
Insert the heel turn piece as per the instructions and attach the leggings cuff to the ankle of the foot in the same way as instructed for the leggings hem. Sew the seam from toes to the top of the cuff and fasten off both ends of the seam and you're done! Much quicker than knitting!

I have got lots of very small bits of this wool knit lying around, so am going to make up a few more pairs of striped socks, but I'm thinking that this would be a great way of using up fine knits from your wardrobe if they have seen better days or have gotten a bit moth eaten (damn moths).
Here is another pair I made up!

There are loads of variations of this and you can make them as long or as short as you wish from sports socks to knee highs. You will need to cut a larger cuff for further up the leg and insert some elastic into the channel to keep them up, but you can really go to town and make some amazing socks.
Here are some yummy sock ideas from my pinterest board!
Matching socks and t-shirt anyone???

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Hand knitted sailors jumper

This is my sailors top pattern in knitted form! As I stated in this post, I have joined in with the #sundaysweaterkal on Instagram and have taken on two jumpers. I have the greeny one still on the go and was knitting them both flicking between the two. I knitted the back of the green, the back of the orange, front of the green and then finally the front and shoulder gussets of the orange, which is where I decided to take this forward and finish it!

I wrote the pattern for this jumper based on my free pattern, but with slightly tapered and longer sleeves rather than just square. I haven't written a knitting pattern for so long that I wanted to start with something simple and seeing's as this is as simple as it gets in terms of shapes it is a great place to start. You can't really see it here, but the sleeves are inset into the bodice slightly rather than just joined onto the end. I knitted up to the underarm point and cast off 4 stitches either side so there was a rectangular chunk missing from either side for the sleeves to set into and reduce the shoulder width. I tried to reduce the risk of getting bored or disheartened by this project by doubling up this drops Nepal yarn to create a bulky yarn knit on 8mm needles. This yarn is so soft and I absolutely love the colour. I have never used this brand before (and probably should have used from the stash), but I will definitely remember it for the future!

I was kind of going for a Guernsey knit type thing as I love the use of stitch to create subtle interest for a change. I did go through a phase of loving colour work, but am into stitches at the moment. The stitches I used are 2 x 2 rib, stocking stitch, garter stitch and diagonal crepe stitch (on the upper chest).

I want to try this again using a single Aran yarn on 5mm needles next and make some improvements, as the neck did not need those shoulder gussets. I totally did not take into account the weight and stretchiness of the knit dragging the neck down.

I have re-enforced the neckline with bias tape (didn't have any petersham ribbon) and this does help, but the shoulder gussets can go on the next one.

I could not decide about the sleeves, as I always roll them up. They are wrist length, but I totally finished the jumper, tried it on and wanted to see what it looked like with 3/4 length sleeves so un-ravelled, re-knit to 3/4, didn't like them, un-ravelled and re-knit to wrist length and then was done. For some reason I prefer the look of them rolled up even though it's more bulky.

As for my knitting skillz, they are not that refined. I could not work out how to do my short rows on the shoulder gussets without it creating massive holes, so in a bodge attempt to get rid of them have made it look a bit messy.

The other thing I missed on the back is a few stitched where I only picked up one strand of yarn instead of both and it looks a bit holey in a couple of places. I was much more vigilant after this!

To conclude, this is not perfect, but it's got me back to thinking about knitting more. Don't worry I'm not about to start writing knitting patterns to sell, but if I knit something that looks ok and I can write legible instructions then the odd free pattern may pop up from time to time. I'm not sure that this is going to be one of them, as it's not quite right, but I if I sound displeased with it then I'm not. I really like it and it's definitely a useful piece to have in my wardrobe. Perfect for this c-c-cooold weather!