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!
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!
My 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.
Having 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!)
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.
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’!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
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).
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!
Sometimes I think my clients think I have elves, or a magic wand, or something similar. Recently one of my ladies brought me this lovely dress – with a bit of a problem:
Thankfully the damage was at centre back rather than front – but still in a critical position. Whilst like this the dress was totally unwearable, and with unshakable faith my client left it with me ‘because I know you will be able to do something’. Oh dear. I left it to mature for a couple of days, I did other jobs, I sharpened all the pencils, I dusted the workroom. That was the cue to say that nothing worthwhile was going to get done whilst this waited.
Perched on the pressing ham to keep the lining out of the way the damage looked awful. I threaded up a number of needles and started to ‘connect’ the bits that were still obvious. And then I checked out the surrounding area to get guidance for what to do next. It was impossible to reconnect all of the lace as it was originally as it was so badly torn but I worked slowly and as methodically as I possibly could. The repair is really just lots of chain/bar tacks holding everything together on faith and prayers but as my dad would have said ‘It looks fine to a man on a galloping horse’. I think it could possibly bear closer (but not really close) scrutiny. She comes for it on Monday – I hope she will be happy.