Nell’s Done!

Actually Nell was finished almost two weeks ago but I have been in Northumberland again visiting the mothers. Sadly during the time I was there I was unwell, and the weather was cold. No, COLD – so I’m afraid I wanted to be more wrapped up than Nell offered and didn’t get a photograph. More on that later, but just for fun here are some nice cows (and yes, that is snow on the tops).

College Valley cows

College Valley cows

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Can you see the face and ‘girls’?

We did do some nice things during my visit – one of which was a visit to the College Valley. It is truly beautiful there, and as there had been snow the previous night we had truly lovely views of Kielder with snow on top. Sadly there had been lots of rain prior to our visit so walking wasn’t quite as good as it could have been. We did also visit Northumberlandia later that week (also very cold) and got close for the fist time despite passing her on many, many occasions.

 

Anyway, Style Arc Nell. I had intended this to be a project I could be proud of, but one that wouldn’t take too long. Why do I always seem to complicate things that really don’t need it? You may remember that the quantity of the fabric I chose was really insufficient to make up this pattern, it was also a textured wool that I thought would benefit from being lined. I thought I was unbelievably lucky when I found a matching lining in stash, and when I came up empty on a binding trim I knew that I had some felted wool jersey that would do the job without fraying. Sorted.

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Mounting the lining onto the pattern pieces (this is the sleeve/cape bit)

I went with a mix between mounting and lining (mining?) as I knew I didn’t have sufficient fabric to even cut a small allowance on the edges that were to be bound which would have enabled me to turn them neatly. This did cause a few problems later, and the seam where the ‘sleeve’ is sewn in and the main coat bound isn’t quite as tidy as I would have liked (no, I’m not showing it – if I pretend it’s not there I’m fine with it). Making up a full lining and turning the whole shebang through on itself would have solved my problems entirely and if I make this again that is exactly what I will be doing.

The instructions don’t include the lining so if anyone really wants me to I can do a description of how I achieved this – but more likely, how to do it with a ‘full turned lining’. I really like this cape – I wasn’t sure I would – but it has already got a bit too cold to wear it comfortably here in the UK. The gorgeous wide wings sleeves do flap in any sort of a breeze, and since they open up into an armhole it can be a bit nippy. It would be absolutely perfect for a night out (where you weren’t going to be outside much) but not so much for a day out tramping round town.

There is a lovely deep back pleat which makes movement very easy in this, and I loved having pockets (although if I make it again I would probably use a ‘warm’ fabric rather than the lining fabric for them). I did wear this out a couple of times but mostly I was just grateful to wear it round my shoulders in the car where I could easily take it on and off as the need arose.

I’m not absolutely sure when I will make this again as it is pretty distinctive, but the pattern is great and fitted straight off the press (though in truth it only really needed to fit on the shoulders!) but I would be pretty happy to recommend it. The instructions could have been in Greek as I really didn’t use them, though there is a very nice picture instruction sheet which was probably more instructive than the words for me.

I have been catching up on client work again since we got home (diminishing nicely, thank you!) so I am really keen to start that fabulous green/yellow coat next week. Updates eventually.


The Eternal Socks and more.

No. not how long I expect them to last – the time it has taken me to knit these blessed socks.

I used my basic pattern, which is the Lacery sock pattern which was free fom Ravelry, but used the cabled pattern all over the sock from the Little Minx socks, also free from Ravelry. The last time I used the Little Minx pattern I realised it didn’t have increases on the instep but didn’t think it would matter. After using the socks for a while I decided that whilst I liked the cabling they were a bit tight over the foot to put on. Fine once they are on there but a bit of a struggle initially!

Damn that dropped stitch!

Damn that dropped stitch!

I was finished one sock for a good while before I got on with the second as this has been my ‘portable project’ for a while. Socks are great for a project that can move with you and doesn’t take up too much space. A night of insomnia got me back on track and once cast on they were on their way. It wasn’t until I had finished the second sock it still took a while) and was darning in the two loose threads (I love toe-up socks for this detail – only two threads to darn in on one colour socks) I spotted this! Damn! A dropped stitch from while I was working the heel. Fortunately it hadn’t run away when I turned the sock through so I was able to effect a repair whilst muttering and cursing.

Instep detail

Instep detail

I am now happy to report that I have another pair of hand knitted socks for myself, and very comfy they are too. They were knitted in Yarn Gardens sock yarn which had a bit of something called ‘stelina sparkle’ included which makes them a bit twinkly. I know from the last Yarn Garden yarn I knitted that these will have to be washed on their own for a good few times as the dye seems to weep for a number of washes but doesn’t seem to fade – no, I don’t know how either.

Finished!

Finished!

Something I hadn’t quite appreciated until I went to put the end of the yarn into the ‘leftovers bag’ was quite how much leftover sock yarn I have generated. I think I may have to knit a ‘two at once’ project and just make mad stripes to use some of this up.

Leftover sock yarn

Leftover sock yarn

 

So, any sewing Kim? Not as such. Lots of planning (I seem to spend more time planning my sewing than ever I do making things for me 😦 ), client work being kept steady – or even diminishing which is nice, and piles of PDF patterns printed out ready to get on with.

I stuck the Style Arc Toni pattern together a little while ago and decided that rather than spending the time tracing it from that I would just cut the pieces. Why didn’t I do that before? It is now sitting with the fabric I plan to make it in waiting for its turn. It was head of the list until I saw – Style Arc Nell.

Fashionable cape with bound edges and inseam pockets

This was love at first sight. I had flirted with the idea of a cape for quite some time but never taken the plunge. This just seemed to be exactly what I needed – and I knew exactly which fabric to make it in. A lovely raspberry fabric that had been lurking for some time. Oh, but would I end up looking a bit ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (even though there is no hood other than me). Re think. A lovely textured grey wool sprung to mind – even longer in the stash than the raspberry. Perfect. Except there is only 1.5m and the pattern says 2. Pants. I really liked the idea of this in the grey so I spent this afternoon sticking the pattern together before cutting it out and placing (breath held the whole time) on the ‘too small’ piece of grey fabric. It fits. Just. Two pieces are a fraction off grain which I  would usually not tolerate but this time needs must.

The piece turned out to be only 145cm long and I think that had it been the full 1.5m I could possibly have managed to cut this on grain – sadly I will have to find something else to make the pockets from (or go without , but I can’t see that happening!) as the pocket pieces wont fit. Hopefully I will get this cut out and overlocked over the weekend. The fabric is so loosely woven that if I don’t protect the edges I am going to have fraying beyond the not very generous seam allowances.

Back with progress soon.I hope.


August total – and the reveal

I was something of a tease in my last post – showing that picture and letting you guess. I have to say that some of the guesses were very inventive! No-one was quite right but Anne McClure was close.

Pleated skirt

Pleated skirt

A pleated skirt!

Stylist picture I liked

Stylist picture I liked

The picture on the left is from a Stylist magazine from ages ago. I (like many of you out there I imagine) have a whole pile of pictures ripped from various magazines and newspapers of looks I think I might like to recreate. Not all of them are ever going to see action but just occasionally a fabric jogs a mental image and I scuttle off to try and find the picture I’m thinking of. Not always easy.

Anyway, when I was in Birmingham with Fairy and Glenda I picked up this polyester taffeta fabric from the Barrys £2 per metre table. I knew I wanted it but wasn’t sure what for. When I got home it started to whisper to me and I ignored it for a while but eventually succumbed.

I sent the panels, which I had already roll hemmed, to Ciment pleating and they made a lovely job. It didn’t take too long to join the panels (if only I had thought of this skirt whilst I was at Barrys I could have bought enough to have had the fabric pleated in one piece – you learn through experience I suppose) and trim to the length I wanted. I did think briefly about an elasticated waist but went with the more attractive waistband. I fitted this late afternoon and there is definitely a bit of wiggle room there – it could probably be a little tighter but I will leave it for now.

I’m not entirely certain that a pleated skirt ‘is me’ at the moment – and certainly not styled with an orange vest! I’m thinking white shirt maybe? It’s so long since I wore skirts on a regular basis it feels odd to be in one, but now that I have seen that I can wear a skirt AND flat shoes I will try more out. I’m currently thinking about a half circle skirt although that may have been something to have done at the start of the summer.

So at the end of August (because this was finished in August, honest) I had made two shirts for The Management, the wonderful Fadanista Sneaky Shrug for me, and now this pleated skirt. The total fabric used in August was 8m – 2 more than I bought this month. Hurrah!


One for me, one for him

I have been having quite a nice time around clients doing stuff for me – and him. I am doing my absolute utmost to sew from stash – including all the odds and sods needed to complete – so when I manage that I’m very happy.

The Management is very tolerant of my fabric habit so he does deserve some reward occasionally. I decided that I would get stuck in on the fabric I bought to make shirts for him. It’s actually very easy as he prefers to wear short sleeved shirts so no problems with plackets and cuffs – even the collar is pretty easy since these are ‘soft’ dressmaker shirts rather than having a really stiff collar.

Striped cotton shirt - he seems happy!

Striped cotton shirt – he seems happy!

 

Chevron detail on back yoke

Chevron detail on back yoke

 

I got the lovely penguin fabric out as I really wanted to start with that – and *damn it* there wasn’t enough! I hadn’t checked the width when I bought it and it isn’t the 150cm wide I assumed it was. Pants. I will try to buy another 1/2 meter next time I’m inn Birmingham which will solve the problem (or make something for me….). After that I was a bit huffed but decided to plough on with the stripe. It had been pre washed and was ready to go and there was loads of this as I had thought it would be good as pj’s but he preferred the idea of it as a shirt. The pattern is self drafted (but is similar to McCalls 6044) and has been made so many times I know I can just cut and go so it is a really nice easy garment to make. He seemed pretty happy with it – and the penguins will be next.

Fadanistas fabulous  Sneaky shrug

Fadanistas fabulous Sneaky shrug

 

The next item from stash has been a bit out of season – but I really wanted to try the pattern and make up this fabric. It is the leopard knit from the last trip to Birmingham – the one where I wasn’t going to buy anything, remember? I would blame Fairy but I really didn’t need any encouragement. My original intention for this fabric was the twisted jumper from Pattern Magic but I really wanted to make Fadanistas sneaky shrug. I loved the shape, and that it could be worn either way up (honest, make it and give it a try!), even inside out if you take the time to neaten the sleeve hem. This shrug is pattern gold – and Sue has given not only the pattern dimensions but also a tutorial on her blog. It looks a bit complicated at first but the trick is not to over think it. It took about an hour to cut out and sew. Sadly it is too warm again to model it (what is it with British weather?) so I have asked the lovely Bessie to show it off.  I know I am going to wear this loads – and the bonus is that there is almost certainly enough fabric left to still make up the twisted jumper. Score!

So, the shirt used up 1.5m, and the shrug 1.8m so 3.3m used – only a couple of hundred meters to use up!

Keep sewing 🙂

 

 

 

 


Stashbusting in July

Yes, I know it is now August 4th but I have been waiting for the weather to improve to take photographs somewhere other than my cream wall. It was quite nice before the kids broke up from school but has been a bit spotty since then.

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Wrap pants

While dredging in a not oft used drawer I rediscovered these leopard print wrap pants. I mainly use them on holiday but on a warm day they were perfect. It got me wondering how the pattern would be as shorts.

Pattern shape

Pattern shape

You can see the ties on the back

You can see the ties on the back

Wrap shorts

Wrap shorts

As it turns out I’m not sure I like them. I suspect the problem is that in shortening the whole thing they have lost some of their appeal. They catch the breeze more easily when long, and don’t look quite so ‘tubular’. I think I may try again but add a bit of fullness to the pattern pieces so that they look a bit more like a wrap skirt. The pattern is very simple – just two pieces cut from the width of a fabric piece with a U shape cut out to give the crotch space. I added the darts from my skirt block to the waist to give a little shape and used the full width of the 150cm  wide fabric for the pink. I cut them a bit longer than necessary so lost a bit of fabric when I shortened them. The ties are just strips made long enough to tie in a bow front and back. The style does mean that loo visits are a bit of a fandangle but I like them regardless. The long ones. These were made from some polyester crepe which I know washes and dries quickly making it perfect for hot climates – if a bit sticky. I’m happy to have this used now, even if I don’t wear them very often.

 

You may remember the odd shaped pants from the last Patrones I reviewed. Well, the leapfrogged the Thai Fishermans pants that I cut the pattern for at the same time. They took no time to make up and I love them!

Sarrouel Trousers front

Sarrouel Trousers front

Sarrouel Trousers - back

Sarrouel Trousers – back

That much fabric!

That much fabric!

I made these in some rayon that had been in the stash forever. I liked the colour but never really knew what I wanted from the fabric so was quite happy to risk it with a project I wasn’t sure I would like. How wrong could I be? These are very comfortable to wear – breezy as you like for warm days – and despite expecting The Management to choke when he saw them he has declared them ‘very smart’. Wonders never cease! He also decided that they were ‘skrousers’ as they didn’t quite fit either category.

Sarrouel Trousers - She Wears the PantsThe seams made me think that it would have been useful to have included some in seam pockets, and also that I might prefer them a little shorter. I remembered that a shorter, much more involved, version was included in the ‘She Wears the Pants’ book I bought some time ago. I recall sniggering a bit when I saw them but I now think they would be well worth a try. Summer suit weight perhaps? This book is another of the wonderfully odd Japanese pattern books (the patterns are supplied) which would never fit me but I can crib ideas from them. Despite the title there are few ‘pants’.

Anyway, that makes three garments made for me (along with the Jasper Hoodie) in July and the PJ’s for The Management using 10 metres in total. Not quite as much as I bought this month but a small dent in the stash 🙂

 


Stash busting – and blown.

I have been settling into the idea of being more able to do things for me by …. doing very little. Oops. Not nothing, just not a great deal.

I have been sorting stash (always a bad idea – I get lost down a rabbit hole once I start stroking all the fabric) and decided on a few organised things I want to do. So what did I start with? Something completely off plan and totally unsuited to the weather at the time.

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Spot the hoodie! (Front)

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Spot the hoodie! (Front)

I made another Paprika Jasper hoodie.The fabric was a rich cream cotton and viscose mix (80/20) in a ribbed weave. I have had this for an age and am pleased to say that this is the last of this piece so is a proper bit of stash busting. I know that I will wear this loads once the weather cools down as I have almost killed off the navy version I made a while back. I know this is a pretty bland garment but that means I can mix it with a number of things in my wardrobe. I did try a number of more exciting buttons on the fabric but kept coming back to this thoroughly boring cream ones (which were also from stash – hurrah!).

Thoroughly pleased at the start of my stash busting quest I met Elaine (The Demented Fairy) and Glenda in Birmingham for a spin round the Rag Market and surrounding area on Tuesday. I should have known that despite my protestations that I wasn’t there to buy any more fabric that I would find something that begged to come home with me.

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Jacket fabric and button

Actually inside the market – our first stop after a reviving cup of tea – Elaine and I started to shake our purses out. She found a fabulous long curled hairpiece which matched her own hair beautifully, and will be perfect for her Steampunking  and anything else mad she wants to do. Then I found a fabulous leopard print canvas on a furnishing stall. I just called ‘jacket Kim’ to me and I was fumbling for my purse. At £5 pm it was a steal – and I found a gorgeous feature button just round the corner. No Anne, you can’t have it.

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Shirt fabric for The Management

Then, after Elaine had been seduced by a fabulous taffeta I saw this magnificent poly cotton which I knew The Management would like as a shirt (it was later approved). Aren’t those penguins cute! I was convinced as soon as I saw the baby penguins in grey. So cute. And can you spot the dancing penguins? (I went back into the Market later and Elaine had me buy a piece for her too).

I actually bought the elastic I intended to buy (yes ladies, that was really all I wanted) next along with two cream overlocker cops. I could have run away at that point – but no, I had to carry on didn’t I?

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Knitted leopard this time.

 

Glenda wanted to go to the jersey fabric stall which is outside and while she was rummaging I found this. It is synthetic but I wouldn’t like to guess at the composition, and quite a stable knit. It was the last piece so I got it at a very good price (I think about £8 for 2m) and I had initially thought it would make a great twist top from Pattern Magic I now have another idea. Watch this space as I want to try this soon. Still no Anne.

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The lovely Fairy (Elaine) and Glenda

 

We decided we needed to re fuel after this excitement despite Glenda not having bought anything so far and decided on another visit to Mount Fuji. Excellent nosh all round and a great opportunity to gossip for a while.

We did carry on to the Fancy Silk Store and Barrys  but I escaped without buying any more fabric. I did spot a nice twill weave with Snoopy and Woodstock printed on it but there wasn’t enough for jeans, which was my plan, and as it was polyester rather than cotton I decided to decline their offer of checking the Manchester store for me.

So, another great day out. But on balance I used just over 2m for the hoodie and have bought 5.5m . and I wonder why my stash is massive. There is some serious sewing planned over the next few weeks so I hope to knock a hole in it. Even a small hole would be a good start.


Tapestries and Shoes at Croome

PICTURE HEAVY POST!

Last Sunday The Management and I had a day out. I started with a leisurely 10k run (in which I got my best time so far – if you are interested in my running progress check out my running blog here ), and then we went to a National Trust property called Croome. We had seen reports that they were holding an exhibition of tapestries by Grayson Perry and I really wanted to see them. As a bonus we discovered a small exhibition in the basement called ‘Soul to Sole’ which was just delightful.

Croome

Croome

I had read about Grayson Perrys tapestry series called ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’  and thought it would be interesting to be able to see them in detail, and also madness not to go when they were so local. I am not terribly familiar with his work, but I did see a post that Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial did a while back and I saw things that I really liked. I know not everyone would, but I do think that art should be challenging on occasion.There was a video presentation, and a display of his sketches inn the same room. I thought the sketches were well worth having – they gave an opportunity to see how they looked both small, and in a different medium.

The tapestries were all HUGE! Think back to the sort of tapestries you see in the traditional National Trust properties. I loved that he had brought fairly familiar themes up to date – and that you could spot things that were in everyday use, and also people you recognise (hello Jamie Oliver!, and I thought the ‘Madonna’ character looked very Colleen Rooney). I seem to have missed one tapestry in photos but I hope you get the idea from my, occasionally appalling, pictures. There are a couple of detail pictures just to show the texture, and also a ceramic vase that was included which I loved.

The exhibition is at Croome until September, and as there are more things we would like to do there I may be back again before these go away.

‘Soul to Sole’ is an art installation using shoes as a means of describing some of the ‘souls’ connected with Croome. Sadly my pictures don’t do it justice – I was tired, and also being hurried along by The Management. There is more information about some of the shoes on a blog set up by the resident artist here.

 

The Aristocracy would clearly have had a fairly ‘charmed’ life, not so the maids who the following shoes were attributed to – lists of tasks to be completed were embroidered(?) onto the shoe. The shoes on the right were depicting Hilda, a servant from the 1930’s, memories – I can’t imagine it would have been very much easier as a servant even then.

In 1942 a local airfield becomes RAF Defford which has strong links to the house today. The shoes below were inspired by Joan Gill, who was driver to RAF Deffords CO during world war 2, and the childhood memories of Michael McDonald who was the child of an RAF captain who remembers playing in the grounds as a boy. That must have been an idyllic childhood playground.

Sadly Croomes family fell on hard times and sold the estate in 1948. The house became a school for boys. I remember wearing sandshoes just like these as a child, and the shoe cubby holes were left from this era. It stayed a school until 1979 when it became a centre for Hare Krishna devotees – sorry about the picture quality. They didn’t stay too long, selling the house in 1984 to property developers, and the National Trust took control in 1996.

If you click on a shoe picture you should find more information.

I enjoyed the exhibition, as much for it being so unexpected as the shoes being so unusual. I have enjoyed looking up some of the people involved – particularly Eleanor Coade who is the 18th century  LADY who invented the artificial stone known as Coade stone. She must have been an amazing person to have achieved that at that time.

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PJ’s for The Management

I have finally managed to finish the first PJ’s for The Management, the first of the fabrics I bought on the Birmingham meet. I’m very happy with the way they look, and I know that he liked the print so I hope he will like them too. They aren’t going to be ‘easy care’ as they are a pure cotton, but they should be cool to wear should the weather here get hot at night.

I got a selection of fabrics out from stash yesterday and ordered them into groups that would work together. Hopefully I will get going on things for myself very soon.