Marching on

Yet again time has flown by without my noticing. March is a distant memory, and April is already well advanced – how come?!

I really have been sewing and knitting between just chilling and enjoying trips out with The Management. Evidence below.

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Firstly we have a really grotty photograph (why does flash make it look so bad?) of The Management wearing the shirt made from the fabric bought from Mood Fabrics in New York. I used the self drafted pattern which has been made multiple times now and is very easy for me to knock out. I struggled a bit to find buttons that worked on this fabric until I turned one of my stash buttons upside down and discovered that it was perfect. I even had enough of them. Score!

This has been worn on so many occasions now that I can confirm that it is (apparently) very comfortable, and washes like a dream. He claims that it is the most comfortable in his wardrobe so I must have got something right. If you have an amazing memory I did wonder who’s fabric would be made up first. His, but I have cut out my jeans from the pin striped denim. They are waiting in a queue at the moment.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Remember the Purl Soho Botanical Yoke sweater ? Finished, worn, and loved. How gorgeous is this? This version was made in  Drops cotton light and is perfect for right now but I really do want to knit another version in the recommended Cashmere and Merino mix. The actual yarn from Purl Soho is fabulous but I saw Colourmart in Shrewsbury mentioned in Kate from Fabrickateds blog and decided to check them out. Am I glad I did! I am lucky enough to live close enough to visit the unit they trade from and meet the lovely Sue. She showed me around in an attempt to find a yarn I liked but I got completely overwhelmed and had to come away just with samples to try before committing. I was even given a swift lesson in how to Navajo ply the yarn to bring it up to the thickness I needed. What service! The yarn I think I am going with is a very dark OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAblue, almost black, wool/cashmere mix which will need to be knitted using my new knowledge. Now that I know about Colourmart, and know I can collect orders from them if I am visiting Shrewsbury (and let’s face it – I can think of many excuses to do that!), I will definitely be using their services. Thanks Kate for drawing them to my attention. I even got this finished before The Management and I managed to sneak away to Cornwall for a week. Doesn’t it look good by the sea? (I ask because I want to go back again. And again..) The bucket hats I made from Rhondas blog got good use in the sunshine that week too 🙂 . The jumper was perfect because although the sun was shining magnificently there was a chill in the breeze. Well it is just April!

 

There has been sewing  too. I saw the lovely Demented Fairy  in Birmingham wearing this  Lynne Mizono Vogue 1410 pattern dress and knew I had to have it!

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In my last post I showed some fabrics I had bought from Barrys bargain table. This grey was on there, and was described as ottoman but I didn’t get the exact fibre composition. There is a lot of stretch along the length of the fabric, and the stripes went across the width. I decided I preferred it turned sideways and there didn’t seem to be any reason why I shouldn’t. The pattern is very simple but I took issue with the idea that the neckline and armholes should just be turned and stitched so I used a self bias tape to neaten and finish them. I’m very happy with the result despite feeling like a dwarf after taking 5″ out from the length! The Management likes this too so there are certainly more in my future.

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I made another version of Butterick 6388 , again dress length. You might recognise this as a piece from the last Birmingham trip too. This was a sample piece from the jersey stall that had a whopping great hole in the middle. I wasn’t certain this would fit from the piece but I managed to squeak it out. Again, I have worn this multiple times since I finished it. I put a very fine knitted interfacing into the collar this time as the others weren’t standing quite as as wanted them to. I’m much happier now. I think this piece cost me about £4 so I think I have a very good value dress now – only the thread and interfacing to add to that cost and that must have been pennies. Although we are now (allegedly) into Spring here in the UK I can imagine I will still get a bit more use out of this before it gets too warm.

Well I managed to actually make up two of the six pieces of fabric I bought in Birmingham before I went back and was led totally astray again by Fairy. Look at this lot! We did have another lovely day and it seemed rude not to join in the fabric buying. There is so much there that I’m not going to show it all this time – but I do promise to post again soon so you can see my treasure!
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I have pre-washed all of this now so it is ready to use, I even have an idea of how I am going to use some of it. Whisper it but there is in excess of 12m in there. Well in excess. Oh my.

Till next time.

Kim

 

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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.


Two things for me!

After the disappointment that was the orange vest/waistcoat non happening I decided to go back to a pattern I had tried and liked recently – the Karen Drape dress. No. Yes. No. I’ll make the Nettie bodysuit. No. Yes. Oh, you get the picture.

I had altered the pattern for the dress I used last time to make it a little closer fitting which helps to keep the ‘drapes’ in place. I still tend to think I am bigger than I am – not small, but not as big as I think. I think it is an improvement. See what you think.

Maria Denmark Karen Drape dress

Karen Drape dress front – original fit

Karen dress altered

Karen Drape dress front- altered fit

 

I bought two metres of polyester lycra from the discounted table at Barry’s at the same time as I bought the cloque for the last dress with the intention of making the Nettie bodysuit but I had decided that I wanted to try the altered dress pattern. Anyhoo, after spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to match stripes I realised I would have needed to buy another half metre for it to work BUT if I disregarded stripe matching I had just enough to cut the dress AND the bodysuit. Score!

Karen Drape dress

Karen Drape dress front 

Karen Drape dress

Karen Drape dress back

 

I think that the pattern suggested not using an obvious stripe but I was happy to have the stripe going off at an angle on the top of the front. I suspect if it had been a very regular stripe it may not have looked quite so good. As you see the back is just all horizontal stripes and I’m happy with that too. I actually much prefer this version to the original I made – I think the fabric suits me better.

I used a strip of lycra to bind the neckline this time and I am happier with the fit and shape – I definitely pulled the elastic a bit too tight on the last version. I can now confirm that this pattern is a keeper ladies.

 

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Closet Case Files Nettie Bodysuit

 

On to the bodysuit. This is by Closet Case files and I have seen lots of these on various blogs and really wanted to try the pattern. I was perhaps a little hesitant as I can remember wearing these when they were popular in the eighties. Did I really want to go there again?

Since trouser waistlines seem to be heading upwards again, and tops are being more regularly worn tucked into the waistband I thought it would be good to try – you can’t fault a bodysuit in keeping you neat (unless you are Patsy from Ab Fab!).

As I had just enough to cut this out provided I made the sleeves short I got on with it. I graded the pattern out one size over my (lack of a) waist and just went ahead on faith. It is a pretty good fit – the lycra isn’t straining anywhere and isn’t looking too clingy. I would be happy wearing this as it is but I shall be allowing a little extra space on the shoulders next time (yes, there will definitely be a next time) as the sleeves seem to want to climb upwards since there is very little width on the shoulders. Apart from that I am very happy, and since the pattern offers lots of variation (including making it into a dress) I can see this pattern getting quite a lot of use.

Not a bad result from 2m of fabric!

 

 


Karen Drape Dress in the Jungle!

Whilst I was feeling very sorry for myself a little while ago I was sent a lovely gift – the Karen Drape Dress pattern from Maria Denmark. It really did give me a lift, so thank you very much S! (Gotta love your sewing friends 😉 ). This looked like a very easy dress to wear – and suitable for so many occasions. As Maria herself says in the instructions ‘it is your new favourite dress’ and I think she may be right. Having said that some of you will probably be thinking that as I rarely wear dresses it isn’t up against very stiff competition. Oh ye of little faith! This really is a good dress and pattern.

On to the skinny. The PDF file had 40 pages, 10 are instructions and general information which I printed double sided and the remaining 30 are the pattern which didn’t take too long to trim and stick together. The front pattern piece is complete so it is rather large on its own, but there is only the back and sleeve after that. I didn’t trace the back as a complete pattern so I could have cut it in one piece but I will be converting that before I use the pattern again, I did cut two separate sleeve patterns (I even remembered to mirror them! Yay me!)

Animal? But which animal?

Animal –  but which animal?

The fabric I bought – I know, you might have expected me to have had something suitable in that almost bottomless stash – was bought in Barry’s in Birmingham. It is a polyester cloqué, 150cm wide and I bought 2 meters. I could have cut this easily with 180cm of fabric so I will bear that in mind when I want to make this in something more expensive – I hate wasting both fabric and money. I think the print looks a bit animally – leopard or cheetah or stegasaurus, I’m not sure which. However, I am claiming this for Jungle January! If you want to weigh in with an opinion as to what animal it actually is feel free.

Karen Drape dress front

Karen Drape dress front

Karen Drape dress back (Oops I wasn't ready for that picture!)

Karen Drape dress back (Oops I wasn’t ready for that picture!)

The pattern was very accurate to stick together – none of the ‘misses’ that you sometimes find on PDF patterns, and was a very easy pattern to sew. I would probably put the fabric on the floor to cut out as a single layer, despite the fact that my knees are protesting at the thought, as the front pattern piece is large and didn’t really fit on my cutting table easily.It would be much easier to copied this pattern so that it could be cut from a single layer of fabric (it would make any pattern matching much easier if necessary too). I had no problems matching notches, or mismatched seam lengths, or anything else. The sewing was also very quick – once you have organised those tucks on the side front (and Maria has made a blog post to help if you need it) you only have to sew the pieces together and then put clear elastic into the neck (again, a helpful post if you should need it).  Honestly this is a dress that a beginner would find hard to foul up. I didn’t have any of the really thin clear elastic available when I was making this and used some that was a bit thicker. I may have pulled the neckline a little tighter than the original as a result but that isn’t going to stop me wearing this dress.

When I tried the dress on I felt it was a bit large over the hips (I basically don’t have hips – or a waist) so I went back and overlocked a bit more off the side seams. It is a very soft fabric so I would be a bit careful about being too hasty about altering the pattern for this, and the alteration is a very easy one should it be needed. Having worn this a couple of times now it may be that it is still a little generous so I may be brave and cut a size smaller next time. I think that it needs to be a reasonably snug fit across the tummy and hip to prevent the slight asymmetric effect I am getting. I am inclined to over estimate how much ease I need – I think it comes of always being bought clothes ‘to grow into’ as a child. I was a little concerned that it may look stretched over the bust but it is fine, and those friendly tucks over the tummy hide a multitude of sins!

Yes Maria, I think I had just finished my ‘new favourite dress’!


Moving gently on

I have been ridiculously well occupied in my blog absence – not always with sewing but mainly so. I am staggering out of the end of a load of client work, including three weddings which make me wonder how Mrs Mole , who specialises in wedding and prom dresses, ever stays sane!

I was a bit glum after my recent batch of sewing for me. Nothing really seemed to ‘hit the spot’ so I decided to go back to the wardrobe and analyse what I actually wear rather than what I would like my wardrobe to be. My wardrobe staples are jeans (sorted now thank to the Kenneth D King course) and t-shirts/tops. I tend to wear those in preference to shirts although there is no real reason why. Particularly strange since I can’t generally buy t-shirts which fit both my bust and waist/stomach area – they tend to stick out away from my front below the bust.

I still wanted to do more with the wonderful Japanese pattern cutting books but, again, I had been struggling for success with them. So…. I started by drawing out a new T-shirt block using the Kristina Shin book I used for my (successful) leggings. I knew that by drawing out a t-shirt block which fitted well I could use that to check to Japanese pattern sizing to be more sure of a good result.

Kristina Shin T-shirt block

Kristina Shin T-shirt block

The first attempt was very short. Seriously, I went back and checked my measurements and pattern cutting against the instructions and decided it was clearly personal preference. If you are using this book it would be worth checking the finished pattern length against an existing favourite garment. The fabric used was a cheap single knit viscose mix from Birmingham Rag market which was surprisingly nice for the price. Closer examination showed a run right along the centre fold that didn’t concern me as I managed to cut around the problem. The second attempt is shown left, still a little shorter than ideal and whilst not a perfect fit much closer than any I can buy so I am calling this a win and will tweak the block before making again. The neck binding is a little tight (I cut a length 80% of the neck measurement for the binding but could possibly have forgotten seam allowances.What can I say?), and the bust could possibly benefit from a small FBA but it is very comfortable to wear. Since making this I have worn it on a number of occasions and it has washed and worn well.

 

Side drape

Side drape

Happy with the stripe matching!

Happy with the stripe matching!

With this small success in my system I went ahead and traced out the pattern from Drape Drape 2  for the Number 2 dress. I have long wanted to try this dress but had minor doubts that it was a sensible idea for a lady of my bulk and vintage. Despite that I went ahead and traced the largest size in the book and used my new t-shirt pattern to ensure I would actually fit into it. On the same trip to Birmingham I bought a length of single knit jersey from Barrys. It feels very cool and has a cottony/lineny feel but I can’t remember the fibre content and cant be bothered to do a burn test on the remains. It has no lycra content so is reliant on its ‘mechanical’ return, which is not as good as a jersey with lycra. The pattern fitted easily into the 1.5m I had bought and I made the whole garment using just the overlocker/serger and my coverstitcher so it took very little time. I was particularly happy with the chevron stripe matching on the left side as I hadn’t relied on the overlocker to do as good as that before.

I am pretty happy with the result, though it doesn’t look anywhere like as good on me as it does on Sew Busy Lizzie ! I knew I had admired her dresses(yes, she has multiples of this dress) a good while ago but was a little surprised to see it was the beginning of 2014, shortly after receiving this book from my dear sister as a Christmas gift.

Bare legs....

Bare legs….

...or leggings

…or leggings

I wore this to a family lunch on Saturday in Northumberland  and was pretty happy with the result. It was unusually warm for the north east of England and perfect conditions for a sleeveless dress, although I did wear it with leggings as my legs are still blindingly white! Over the course of the day I was aware of the hem getting wider, and less snug on my thighs which helps to keep the ‘swag’ in shape. I will almost certainly make another one of these but will ensure I have a fabric with a good lycra content so it holds its shape better. Despite that I feel happy with the result though I think I will almost always wear this with leggings.

The trip ‘up north’ was also to take in a visit to The Bowes Museums ‘Style is Eternal’ Yves Saint Laurent exhibition which was wonderful, and as soon as I get the photographs sorted I will do another post. Just like buses – no posts for an age then two in quick succession. Back soon.


Revealing the Patrones 308(Model 8) dress

Before I show you the Patrones  dress I have to confess that The Management and I ran away for a few days in the beautiful Lake District. We spent a couple of days staying in Windermere, and visiting lots of wonderful places (including Beatrix Potters house!) and generally having a wonderful time.

The wonderful view from our hotel

The wonderful view from our hotel

The trip was partly the reason the dress got made up at all, but also the reason it was thrown together so darn fast. Despite the lack of ‘fine finishing’ I like it! I discovered that it could have been made even more quickly by leaving the zip out altogether and just sewing up the back seam (I discovered that when I forgot and took it off without undoing the zip – obviously I had to put it on again just to check I could). The original was made with an exposed zipper, which would have been a nice feature, but I was working with a concealed zipper. Next time probably no zipper at all.

Don't know why I look cross!

Not the best picture ever!

I love the sleeves

I love the sleeves

The way I am standing in the picture is very odd – and I look even thicker round the waist than usual. I know I am thick waisted but it doesn’t usually look quite so bad. Anne from Pretty Grievances should approve of the animal print shoes and belt! The dress is very simple – but has lovely detail on the sleeve head. There is a dart right at the top, and over the shoulder is a flat seam (not terribly obvious in the magazine picture or my own photograph), the fullness is gathered into an area about the mid third of the armhole. I sewed the elastic with a triple stitch zig zag from the end of the dart down the centre of the sleeve, stretched so it made the fabric gather a little. Again, a simple idea but I think it looks very nice.

This was such a quick and easy dress I suspect I may make it again – but I might ‘fiddle’ with the design a little.

 

Quinn(black) and Quibble the Alpacas

Quinn(black) and Quibble the Alpacas

Wild pom-pom sheep. Wonderful - and so many of them!

Wild pom-pom sheep. Wonderful – and so many of them!

Whilst we were in the Lakes we ran into an exhibition called the Kendal Wool Gathering. I knew nothing about this before our visit so it was just good luck that I was able to go see. And buy. The Management was very taken with a couple of Alpacas called Quinn and Quibble – apparently alpacas are useful not only for their fabulously soft fleece but also because they don’t like foxes or badgers and so guard a flock very well. Who would have guessed? I don’t think they would have had any problems looking after the wild pom-pom sheep!

I did buy some goodies, fueling my new sock knitting addiction. The yarn was generally at the ‘better’ end of the market and I could have spent a massive amount of money. I think I was fairly restrained in only buying four lots of yarn and a bunch of buttons. However, I now have a whole new list of suppliers which I imagine will be used in the future. Take a look at this lovely lot!

Goodies!

Goodies!

I am almost finished the toe-up socks I was making so I will have those to show you soon. I am loving knitting them – and they are a great portable project. I already have a request from my mum who would like some for Christmas. Aaargh! There. I have said the ‘C’ word. I do love ‘the season’ but I didn’t want to refer to it quite so early. Sorry everyone!


Patrones 308 Dress (Model 8)

Yes, the coverstitcher and I have made an uneasy truce. I decided to try to just play on some easy stuff to gain a little more experience with this new machine, and this Patrones dress seemed perfect for the task. I had hoped to make this ages ago but failed. I have no idea when this was published but my friends have just brought me Patrones 329 so it is a while! (I will check out the contents of the new magazine and report later).

NIce dress!

Nice dress!

I made this in a black double jersey (ponte) from stash, and made a few alterations to the pattern. The neckline was raised 1″, but in truth could probably have been left alone and still been decent. I narrowed the sleeves to the cuff by 2cm, and pegged the skirt hem by about 1″ and made it longer by 1″. I am shorter than the model so it is just above the knee which I think is better on a lady of my vintage. Some might say it was too short but I like it that length, and my legs are still OK so I am prepared to get them out on occasion.

Most of the dress was made on the sewing machine but I made the skirt and sleeve hems on the coverstitcher. There are still a few skipped stitches in this work but not enough to want to tear them out and start again. I noticed that the problem is worse in the wider stitch than the narrow option so I will have to investigate why that might be. I am a bit happier now but know I need to spend more time ‘playing’ with this machine.

This is a very simple dress made special by the sleeve detail. It too is very simple, just a dart to the sleeve head and elastic down the centre to hold the gathers from the sides of the sleeve right the way across. Very simple and effective. I didn’t finish this until late evening and wasn’t able to get a decent photograph in the black fabric so you will have to wait to see the dress but I am happy with the result. I can see this being worn quite a lot as it is fairly fitted and neat, but not in any way ‘stuffy’.

I have also finished one ‘toe-up’ sock, and started the second. Good fun and very relaxing!