Challenge accepted – and met!

A long time ago (in a land far away…..) I joined a Stash busting Group on Facebook. Yes, I see the joke too. It hadn’t occurred to me that this would be so useful – and it also directed me to a group that were issuing Sewing Challenges. What better way to induce you to sew. I love a challenge!

So, back in January I joined a challenge – the SSW:Deep Stash Challenge. It seemed like a breeze to sew eight (yes, 8) garments from patterns bought before 31st December 2016 before the 30th April deadline. A mere two a month would be a piece of cake. Or so I thought before my gall bladder interfered so much.

I started strongly in January with the Fehr Trade VNA sports top and the self drafted warm ‘leggings/trousers’. The top was blogged here as my Jungle January garment but I never blogged the trousers. They were made from warm lycra from Funkifabrics bought an age ago and have been worn pretty much constantly since. I love these trousers, and the top has been worn for both yoga and running and I can heartily recommend it. I even managed to use Butterick 6388 for the first time.

February was OK too, I made up the Savage Coco Presto top as a dress, and also made the first incarnation of Butterick 6388 as a dress. Loved them both. Both patterns that had sat around a while, the Butterick unused until January and now a strong favourite in my wardrobe. Details here.

Although made in March (I’m pretty sure) the dresses I made next weren’t blogged until mid April. Yet another Butterick 6388 – didn’t I say it had become a firm favourite? – and Vogue 1410 by Lynn Mizono. Both now well established in my wardrobe (I have even cut out another Mizono for summer – ever the optimist!) and I seriously can’t work out what I had against wearing dresses for so long as it makes getting dressed a breeze. No trying to find matching bits. That truly appeals to my lazy side 🙂

Following this I got seriously slow and almost gave up on the challenge. We had the break in Cornwall, followed by a manic week clearing jobs before my surgery, and then a week recovering. And reading old blog posts, sorting through patterns, and making plans.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sharp eyed among you might recognise these flowered ‘what nots’ as the garment The Management called ‘scrousers’. The pattern was from Patrones magazine and was first made in July last year (details here) and worn more than I expected. I decided that they needed to be shorter and have pockets this time.

Since the originals can be worn facing in either direction I didn’t want to lose that when I added pockets. Easy alteration to do – side panels make adding the pocket a very easy alteration. There is a (very) minor nod to current fashion by using a floral cotton from very deep stash for these. Nice to clear that away, and I know that when it is positively tropical here in July/August I’m ready . Stop sniggering – I told you I was an optimist.

I really thought I had given up after making six of the eight garments required to complete the challenge and then I saw Carolyns blog and another of her gorgeous makes from her Japanese pattern book collection. Back on the horse Hood!

Now Carolyn had adapted the last incarnation of the top she made but I knew I had that book (She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada), knew I had taken it off the shelf frequently with the intention of making several of the garments inside, and had made precisely …..  none. Time to change that.

I really liked the Square Top (No. 11) and decided to make that first – although I had cut out the other top at the same time. The ability to wear it in two distinct ways appealed, and though I like it as a straightforward top it really is very square. The clue was in the name so I should have known. I will wear it like this but I think I prefer the way it can be buttoned up, turned around, and worn as a shrug. Magic!

The red striped top is the Top with Epaulettes (No.4 in the book) that I had been admiring on Carolyns blog. Why didn’t I make this earlier!!!!! I freaking LOVE this top. This will be worn to death (despite the fact that I look a bit ‘Where’s Wally’ in it) and will spawn lots of friends in my wardrobe.

So that’s it. I actually got to the end (and well done if you have too) and made all 8 garments needed in the time allowed. Just.

What have I taken away from the challenge? Get those unused blessed patterns out and start sewing woman!

So what about digging out a pattern you have been giving house room to and never made, or an old favourite that could replace one of the worn versions you made and love. You must have liked a pattern enough to stump up cash to buy it so off you go! Which pattern are you going to make? I have an idea which of mine you will be seeing soon.

Kim

 


Relaxing, and getting things done, is soooo good!

Yes, it’s official – I’m retired  so don’t ask me to do a darned thing!

Actually not quite true yet as I still have a very small amount of client work outstanding – but it’s all work that has no deadline so I can actually do it when I feel like that sort of work rather than feeling obligated. How happy am I! I promise this is the last time I gloat ‘coz  I’m retired . Honest.

Anyway, my last post was a frantic dash to get the Jungle January garments posted before Ann slammed the gate closed so I didn’t tell what else I had been doing so I will start here..

In with my lovely knitting ‘Stitching Santa’ parcel from Jo  was a skein of sock yarn in lovely greens. Clearly since it was my gift I had to knit this for myself. Since I had no other knitting on the needles I decided to start January with this. The yarn was a lovely Superwash wool/nylon sock yarn by Knitglobal which knitted up beautifully into very comfy socks. Thankfully they are also very warm because it has been positively bleak here in the UK. Grey and wet. Yuck! There are another couple of balls of Drops sock yarn so I can start another pair whenever I want. Bliss!

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..and back

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Butterick 6388 front…

I started sewing with the Butterick 6388 pattern and a cheerful red polka dot jersey because …well, it’s miserable in January! Red always cheers me up. However, I really have to say I prefer this as a top (as it was for JJ in the last post). It’s a great pattern – and I certainly see more of these in the (possibly near) future – but I like the top better. The pockets in the diagonal seams are great but inclined to open up a bit when you are wearing the dress. I may go back and sew these closed. The fabric is far from high quality – probably plain polyester jersey from the Rag Market but I have no recollection as it had been in stash for ages. It does have as much stretch as the pattern claims to need but I would much prefer it to be stretchier as it clings a bit. It may behave better once it has been washed but at the moment it is giving electric shocks as there is so much static!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy next choice was another Rag Market fabric – this was an astonishingly good buy at a mere 50p per yard (or whatever length they were selling in that day) and is a very heavy jersey. I should probably have thought more carefully about that weight when I decided to repeat the wonderful Savage Coco Presto top in it. The front (and as it’s cold I did the back too) is doubled so there is a lot of cloth here. I  really should have put a petticoat under that dress before taking photographs – I don’t usually have a sway back problem so I assume the cloth is just stuck to my tights. I really loved this made up as a top and have worn the ones I made last year Yikes!!! it was 2015 a massive amount. They have every right to be looking a bit shabby now. I’m not sure if I will keep this as a dress or shorten it to a t-shirt length. I’m really not good at wearing dresses but I’m trying so hard. Perhaps you could tell me what you think?

In addition to sewing these for me I have been destroying a whole load of good cotton. I really can’t believe how long it is taking to cut the pieces for The Managements quilt! Sheesh! All that time and I’m going to be spending even more sewing it all back together. Remind me whats great about quilting can you?! I can assure you that progress on this project is going to be outstandingly slow. No, even slower than that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving finished the socks I was knitting I have broken out of my sock addiction to start knitting a pattern by Purl Soho I saw a while back and just loved. At the time there didn’t seem to be many made up (and when I worked out the cost of the yarn recommended I could see why!). The Botanical Yoke pullover is shown made up in Cashmere/Merino which would quite clearly be heavenly to wear. As I hadn’t used a Purl Soho pattern (and as I said there was no information on Ravelry about the pattern at the time) I decided to make it up in a more summer appropriate, and purse friendly, Drops Cotton Light. Again I chose a bright red (what can I say, red just feels good in January) and have been enjoying knitting this whilst watching the telly box. I have the body knitted up to the armholes, and one sleeve started, so it shouldn’t be too long before I hit the exciting part. By knitting in this yarn first it will give me the opportunity to test the pattern, check the size (my guage is pretty much perfect), and decide if I love it enough to invest in the cashmere/merino to make a sweater to treasure. So far it’s looking good.

Already we are almost half way through February so there won’t be massive amounts sewn for me now (although there are patterns lined up ready to use). I do have a shirt cut out for The Management, and I really do want to start my coat before summer so I really should crack on. But, and it’s a big but, I am only sewing when I feel like it at the moment – and that feels really good. I have been reading, cooking, exercising, and clearing some of those jobs you always intend to go but tend to get left.

I’m enjoying life. Hope you are too.


Jungle January

Oh dear, again I am really late posting what I have made for Jungle January hosted by the lovely Anne at Pretty Grievances again.

I did join in a couple of years ago when I made a pair of zebra print leggings. I knew I had a bit of this fabric left and had been hoping to get it made into something, ANYTHING! I bought a pattern from Melissa at Fehr Trade which I loved but had totally forgotten buying (I’m sure there will be many more of these occasions as I trawl through the detritus in my stash – both fabric and patterns) and knew this was it.The VNA top was beautifully designed, the PDF pattern fitted together with no hitches when I traced it so I was ready to go. Until I was diverted by something else and lost my tracing. Anyone else as disorganised as me?

I searched high and low, gave up and traced again – measuring myself again and discovering I needed the size smaller than I had traced anyway. Probably just as well it got lost. Anyhoo, this exercise vest was made entirely from ‘scrap’ fabric as the zebras were leggings leftovers, and the contrast black section was from a client project that left lots of chunks of black lycra. The sewing instructions were very clear, and the point at centre back is a particular delight. It probably took less time to cut out and sew than I spent searching for the original tracing.I have worn this a couple of times out running and to my yoga class and it performs beautifully – but as Melissa is an experienced runner herself I wouldn’t have expected any less. I love this and will certainly be making more as I prefer vests to t-shirts when exercising but I will reduce the hip circumference a little (I basically have no hips).

Feeling flushed with success I cut out a top from Butterick 6388 which I bought a while back when it was on sale. I loved the neckline and thought it would be absolutely perfect for the bleak grey weather we are having. Again the fabric is leftover from another project – Fadanistas Sneaky Shrug. The fabric was dirt cheap from Birmingham Market so I have absolutley no idea exactly what it is – but I have washed it and it survived, it has a bit of silver twinkle in it, and it has a leopard print. What more can you ask? I have worn this combination of leopard top and warm leggings (not blogged yet) pretty much since they were finished. I love them both – expect to see more. Sorry it’s such a lousy mirror selfie but I took it very quickly to be able to get it posted.

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I have done more in January but the whole idea of retirement has gone to my head and I haven’t been taking photographs or blogging (although I have been trying – and largely failing – to keep up with reading blogs). I promise to update the January makes very soon. Honestly promise.

Kim 🙂

 

 

 


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.


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.


Stacie is a keeper!

Ok, again I never intended to take this long before I posted again. Time seems to be running faster as I get older – something I never believed when other people said that – as there are just so many wonderful things to do around things that have to be done.

I have had a great month of May and can hardly believe it is June already. I have finally got the client work under firm control, and I think that now we are into June there should be less until the weather changes again. Phew! Of course, that doesn’t include the panics from people who have just received their ‘bargain’ prom dresses from China or wherever and discovered they don’t fit (already had one of those – and not even Mrs Mole could have waved her wand over that one!). Still, I’m not going to schedule time for ‘what might’, rather plan what I can do for me around what is already there – not forgetting a bit of time to drag the garden back under control.

BUT I finished my orange Style Arc Stacie jacket a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to get photographs in some interesting place rather than up against my house wall. A nice plain background I admit – but a bit bl**dy boring. Sadly The Management could never be described as likely to worry Bailey and I have struggled with the tripod indoors so there is no way I’m taking it out!

With no further ado, I introduce the orange Stacie…..

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Stacie – front view (Sorry about the collar)

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Stacie – back view

I know that when I first saw this pattern I considered making some changes but this version was made up exactly as designed. And I love it. I did ask The Management for his opinion of both orange jackets, and although he couldn’t say why he preferred this one. Just for comparison…

Both are made in identical fabric and made exactly as intended by the pattern maker. The Stacie was topstitched using the same thread as the construction, but using the triple stitch (supposed to be for stretch) from my machine that builds into a nice visible feature, whilst the Islander was topstitched with buttonhole thread. Other than that the materials are pretty much identical.

Stacie is more ‘pointy’, collar and corners, and has a more defined waistline. The Islander feels oddly heavier(?) and I just feel that it looks more ‘home made’ despite having some great features – check out the pockets and sleeve details.

I still think that I will change bits of the Stacie pattern in the future but now feel unlikely to make the Islander pattern again. I did use skills learned from the Janet Pray course whilst making up the Stacie so I feel the experience of making that was worthwhile. I have worn the orange jacket so much since I finished it that when I found a lonely chunk of black cotton twill I went straight ahead and made this.

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Another Stacie 

I was so happy with the fit and styling of this jacket I have already printed Ziggi ready to gather what’s needed to make that.

Would anyone like the Islander pattern?