Saturday, 23 January 2016

Grainline Archer Take Two

I may have had this fabric for over a year. It was bought to make this shirt, but it took me so long to cut it out! 

After the success of my first Archer shirt, I knew another one or two were required. It is a truly fabulous pattern. Collared shirts never used to be my thing, they irritated me. Over the last few years however that feeling has changed and now I really like wearing them. I feel a bit more pulled together.

I bought this fabric from Croft Mill. The colours were very me and I liked how there are tiny flecks of colour throughout the cloth. They are a bit hard to see in photos but scattered across the checks are tiny spots of yellow, red, green, and blue.

I did as much pattern matching as I could across the shirt. I was irked to find I didn't match the back yoke and lower back a bit better but it isn't going to ruin things for me. I seriously love this shirt and it is fitting into my wardrobe perfectly. I didn't realise it but I have a lot of greys, whites and blues in my drawer. Even my pinky purple long sleeved top makes a good matching layer underneath.

There are a multitude of different thread colours I could have used on this too.

I didn't alter anything on the pattern and the fit is spot on. I didn't want it to be too fitted as I often add a vest plus tee under shirts. I get cold easily!

Last time I made View B with the gathered back. This one is View A. I thought I had done something wrong when sewing the cuffs on this one. I had forgotten that the cuffs are slanted on this view and straight on the other one. I really like the slanted cuffs, they add a subtle detail which makes it unique. I love sewing my own clothes for that reason!

Hubby has a button down shirt from M&S which has a strip of twill tape sewn into the collar. I liked the look of it, so stole the idea. The contrast fabric is Kaufman Herringbone left over from another project. I used it on the inside of the yoke too.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Pyjamas for Spring

I am being massively optimistic here. I say why not start planning for Spring when we have had highs of 10 degrees C today? Real sunlight too. I am almost giddy with excitement.

I had only planned to make the pj bottoms but after spotting this blue knit on my shelf, I thought it would go perfectly, and make a really pretty set.

Upon planning these, I borrowed an idea from the Oliver + S blog, and used their Nature Walk pants pattern, changing the hem to a lettuce hem following the instructions in the blog post. I have never tried this type of hem before and it was far easier than I imagined. I did mine on my regular sewing machine rather than the serger. The thought of changing settings and removing needles had me all flustered so I left my serger alone and ran the hems through on my machine and it worked!

I took a bit of length off the pants so they would be cropped. My daughter can be quite accident prone and often comes a cropper walking down stairs in her sleepy morning state. At this length, she is less likely to get her legs/feet in a tangle.

The knit fabric is an interlock with very little stretch. Enough to bounce back after a wash and tumble dry, but she will probably get a baggy bum after wearing them for a while.

The vest is a pretty underwear style I spotted in one of my Ottobre magazines. Issue 6/2013 if you are interested.

Once again I changed the hem to a lettuce hem (hooray for not having to change to the twin needle!) and this way, it will stay in the sleepwear draw and not migrate.
The front placket has a faux button placket and pretty gathers. I may have to come down a size on the upper front pattern pieces and leave the others as they are next time. The straps are a bit roomy. (Note to self for next time)

I wouldn't mind these for me!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Fair Isle Scarf

This scarf was started back in August of last year. Hesitantly, I must add because I have never done any stranded knitting before but always admired it from afar. I was unsure as to whether I could manage it successfully, but came to the conclusion that a childs scarf was a good place to start.

The pattern comes from a UK knitting magazine (see the projects here). It was well written and I had no real issues with it at all.It was time consuming, but knit up easily.

The scarf is knit up in DK yarn and I chose these quite boyish colours for my daughter because neither of us wanted pink or purple again. Take a look in our winter knits basket and all you can see is a jumble of different pinks, purples and whites. Enough!

The scarf is made up of three worked pieces. 
The back is one continuous length and the front is two pieces joined along a center mark by use of a three needle cast off, which was a new technique to me. 

The back and front are sewn together making the scarf very very thick! 

Part of me wishes I have swopped the colours around a little. Maybe I should have swatched to see what it looked like with blue as the main colour, but my daughter is happy with it and I am too.

I wont say that every repeat looks perfect but I got better the more I knit and by the second half I was seeing a visibly neater pattern.

As much as I enjoyed making it, I couldn't bring myself to make the matching hat. She would have had that around January time at my rate of knitting!

So I used a basic bobble hat pattern with a nice deep cuff and matched up the pom pom with wool from the scarf. Just look at that lousy pompom! I lost my maker and tried to do it on my fingers. It still hasn't turned up even though I have done a post Christmas clean up. I must remember to add one to my shopping list.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

A look back at 2015

Happy New Year Everyone! How are you all doing?

We are settled into the new year now and tomorrow sees the return to day jobs and normal routines. 

All our decorations are down (I know, I know, its early.... but I am always eager to get everything tidy again after the chaos of Christmas. The childrens bedroom is absolutely trashed and it will be sorted out on Monday when they are back at school).

I love seeing all the annual collages that come out around this time of year. Some of you are so productive throughout the year!

It was a revelation how many things I actually got completed and a bit of an embarrassment that I only managed to sew three things for my husband. I had really hoped to do more for him last year. However his Negroni shirt was among one of my best sews and we have purchased more fabric already so I aim to do better!

I should have got a few more items sewn up for myself but what I did make got worn in constant rotation. My Archer and my Portfolio being two of the best. What surprised me is that I didn't make a dress. Not one!

The girls were a lot easier to sew for, of course. Here I indulged in my Oliver and S patterns and gained confidence in sewing with knits.

I adore the Sailboat Top in stripes and the Hopscotch dress was worn until the sleeves wouldn't go on anymore. The Carousel dress wasn't worn at all yet the gingham top version was constantly picked out. And lets not skim past the fact that I made a leotard!

I don't know how much longer Boo will be in O+S patterns. I am currently making a size 10 or 12 for her and it may sadly be my last year working with those patterns for her. I wish it could be different but I don't think we will get towards the latter part of the year before she can't squeeze into them anymore. The Swingset skirt I think will go on for a while and maybe the Field Trip and School Bus Tee patterns On the plus side I have found some Simplicity and Burda patterns that she likes. Ottobre Design has some great clothes for tween sizes so there maybe a shift in style for her but that will be all part of the fun!

2015 as a landmark saw me make my first swimsuit and I enjoyed the whole project immensely. There will be a few t-shirt projects coming up and maybe 2016 will see me fill the underwear drawers with something homemade. Maybe not. I am refusing to make any resolutions or swear under oath that I will complete any tasks. Ever wanted to just have a year off and go with the flow?

If anything I just want to carry on doing what I do, but do it better. Improve on my skills. In sewing, in life, being a mother and a wife. Just get better at living.

We said goodbye to the last of our three amigos last year. Our furry trio of pussycats have all left us and we are still incredibly sad that they aren't around to brighten our lives anymore. Even if you aren't a cat lover, if you have ever owned and lost a family pet, you will know the void they leave. A father, a daughter and a sister.

We have been without a pet for a couple of months now and strangely something feels missing from our lives. A house doesn't quite feel like a home. I would expect a new addition this year, we simply cannot go on without having another thing to love and play with.

I discovered a love for other social media channels and totally embraced Instagram. If you are just interested in my sewing then I set up an account for just that (here), if you are my friend and don't follow my personal account, what is wrong with you? Just ask!!

I hope you all have a brilliant 2016. I want to keep up with all my favourite people and their sewing projects so good luck to you all!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

My Christmas Robin

L had her first Nativity play at school this year and she was given the part of the Robin. She was actually offered the Rabbit and the Goat first but turned them down. Not happy with the costume apparently! So they made up the Robin just for her as she liked the idea of being a little birdy.

The teachers knew I would be able to come up with a costume so they left it up to me!

I loved the idea of her having wings to flap so went looking for a tutorial I had pinned a while back. It was a simple straightforward design and would be perfect for her.

I had an image in my mind of beautiful lush wool felt feathers and luckily there are a couple of brilliant UK based sites that supply gorgeous quality felt. I went with this one because I could choose the percentage of wool content and balance out my overall cost a bit. I picked up a mixture of 40% wool and 100% wool for the project and made sure I used the good stuff for around her face on the mask so it was nice and soft.

(If you want to jump straight to the step by step bit of the wings, then scroll down. I took a few shots while I was making them.)

Altogether, this project made use of four different patterns!

Wings: (see tutorial link above)
Mask: Willow & Stitch Owl Mask from Etsy
Leotard: Jalie 3349

The leotard sewed up beautifully. I will admit to being a little apprehensive as to whether I could pull off a leotard but I had just sewn up a swimsuit so was feeling brave. As it happens the pattern is very well written and the 4-way stretch fabric I purchased from Ebay was super quality. Nice and thick, yet soft and stretchy. Not see-through either which was a bonus!

The Sunki leggings are so quick to come together, I always enjoy sewing them up. I thought she might slip on stage wearing tights but wanted to cover her legs up and keep her warm. These were perfect!

The wings were a little time consuming but I got everything cut out and stitched together in one day. It was a fun project.

I measured her wingspan (not something I thought I would ever have to do...) and added a couple of inches for the middle spacing at the back of the neck. Then I traced a quarter circle onto a piece of card and made a template. The backing fabric is a black cotton/linen mix, nice and light.

I had sketched and coloured a layout for my red, white and browns so after cutting all my scallops out I put them in order.

And got to work pinning and sewing them down on the backing fabric. I learnt along the way, that I should have made the bottom ones a bit deeper but they still sat nicely and you can't see the backing fabric under all the layers. It would just have helped me arrange them better.

As the width got smaller I found that by pleating between the scallops, they sat nicer and looked more natural.

It was a simple case of working all the layers, then trimming the edges. I fixed wrist and upper arm bracelets made of black elastic to keep them in place and a black ribbon to tie around her neck.

The mask was very quick and simple to put together, I highly recommend the pattern for stocking up your dress-up box. The pattern comes with options to make out of felt or card and my girls have requested more.

I am happy to report that the Nativity play went without a hitch and my little Robin was brilliant! (They did dress her with her leotard on backwards, which I inwardly groaned about, but only I would have noticed.)

Monday, 23 November 2015

Ottobre Joggers

This feels like mission accomplished for me. A pair of comfy trousers that actually fit. Not for me sadly, but for my eldest. I have wanted to try this pattern for a long while, taken from the Ottobre Design issue below, which is one of my all time favourite issues. I have made the dress on the cover here and the applique horse for a gift here.

(follow link for magazine)

These are 32. Remainder velour pants. I didn't have velour but my sweatshirt knit bought from Kitschy Coo was perfect for the job. It has a bit of stretch so makes these like wearing pyjamas. So she tells me.....

A while back when I ordered the fabric, I asked  Boo to choose something for a sweater/hoody. This was her choice and while I wasn't 100% on board, I did ASK her to choose herself. When it arrived I had one of those moments where you think, what the heck am I going to make with this? It's cool. But still, no idea!

Then I figured, everybody needs crazy pants for days at home. And here they are.

I blended two sizes to get a better fit. I went with the 146cm with the length of 134cm. I ended up taking a large hem on the legs as they were a smidge too long, but am happy with the overall fit. Not too baggy, nice and slim down the leg.

I had the perfect black drawstring in my stash so didn't have to make one as the pattern instructs. I would always choose to use a ready made one where possible because cutting a thin strip out of knit fabric, folding, pressing and sewing it down neatly seems like too much hard work!

Yes I will definitely be making these again. I would love to try some out of velour and have seen some lovely colours online. I might just get to choose myself this time!! 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Simplicity 1382 for girls

Pattern: Simplicity 1382 
Fabric: 'Persistence Prevails' by Sarah Watts for Cotton and Steel 
Size made: 8 1/2 

I recently bought a few of the Simplicity patterns that include half sizes as I discovered that my daughter fits into the size ranges better. I bought three dress patterns and this is the one she wanted me to make the most. For obvious reasons, the heart cut out at the back appealed to her!

I made the smallest size, that being the 8 1/2. She varies with different pattern companies, and can measure from a size 10 to a size 12 so it is great to know that these come with a bit more longevity.

This is View A; sleeveless with a cut out back. The other options include cap sleeves, a contrast bodice and a simple crossover back without the heart shape cut out. I think the sleeves will look very cute on her. It would be nice to sew another up soon as it makes a perfect Christmas party dress.

The buttons catch the light as they are multifaceted. I got a close match to the lighter turquoise on the dress fabric and chose to make the button holes stand out a touch with a blue thread.

I enjoyed the construction of this dress, it was simple and easy to follow. The bodice is fully lined at the back and part faced at the front. The skirt zips up the centre back. I changed to an invisible zip as I thought it would look cleaner. 

I had a problem with the way the top of the zip curled to the inside when it was zipped up. I have had this problem once before with invisible zips and even though I folded and basted the top of the tape down away from the teeth, it still seems quite rigid at the top. Those with more experience of working with zips, please feel free to throw me some advice. I found this infuriating!

I chose to rescue the situation by adding a hook and eye to the very top of the band and not pulling the zip all the way up. Not the clean finish I was after but the alternative looked messy.

Another brilliant feature of this dress is that it has pockets! And we all love a good pocket!
Sewn into the side seams, the pockets stay nicely concealed within the pleats. I lined mine with the same pinstriped orange I used for the facings.

I like the length, love the back detail and adore the pleats. Safe to say I am really happy with how this turned out.