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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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 🙂

 

Advertisements

Join me in the happy dance!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Front view

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back view

At long last I have finished the blessed brown trousers. Actually I finished these last Thursday but have been waiting for a good photograph to blog with. As usual at this time of year the light has been awful, and when we have been outside (more later) it hasn’t been very much better so I have stuck with the selfie. It has taken so long to finish these you would be very welcome to join me in the happy dance!

Anyhoo, the trousers! This was my Jeanius pattern (cut from instructions given in the Kenneth D King Craftsy course which seems to be at sale price right now!) and cut in fabric brought back from Spain. The fabric was probably suited to a ‘tailored’ style but I tend to wear jeans and t’s most of the time – so jeans it is.

I knew that the pattern fitted reasonably well so I just made them up as cut. I had forgotten that I added 5mm to the side seams last time (Doh!) and whilst these are a snug fit over the butt and thigh I am not concerned because of the amount of stretch in the fabric. I could probably wear these to the gym and be able to cope – although I have no intention of doing so!

I have worn these a lot since I finished them and can say they can bear up to a full days wear looking good, and barely crease even after a couple of hours in the car. I think we have a winner. It would have been nice to have this fabric in another colour but since I don’t remember exactly where in Spain I bought this, and it was forever ago, I am unlikely to manage that. It would be nice to imagine I would be able to find some in the UK but I can’t recall seeing anything similar over the years. I will just have to enjoy what I have.

I had hoped to get a decent photograph last weekend as The Management and I spent the weekend in Bournemouth. Despite the weather being fine I failed completely to get a photograph of me outside at all. No particular reason for a weekend away, but I really enjoyed the break. I find January and the early part of the year quite difficult – probably related to the lack of daylight (S.A.D would be an extreme version of what I feel) so it is nice to break up the expected with little breaks.

Hippies sign

Hippies sign

On the journey down I spotted this sign in a house window. We were stopped at a red light when I noticed it – considering I had to dredge in my handbag, find the camera, turn it on, point and shoot I think this turned out better than the photographs I really try with! Maybe I can learn from that. You might have to click and enlarge this to read the detail but I found it really funny.

 

Two at once socks

Two at once socks

I have also finished my ‘two at once’ socks. These were knitted from my favourite sock pattern from Ravelry but without the lace pattern, and two at once ofcourse.It was easier to manage the further you got into knitting these, and it was brilliant to be able to cast of and only have to darn in the ends before putting on a new pair of socks. No chance of ‘single sockitis! Again these have been worn and I can confirm that they are warm and comfortable. I used to be a little concerned about the difference in ‘nubblyness’ on the soles of hand knitted socks by comparison with the commercially produced socks but I don’t notice the difference now (apart from my feet being warmer in the wool socks).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fabulous bundt cake

I bought a new bundt cake tin after being bought the new  Simply Nigella  cook book for Christmas and seeing her cakes. Isn’t the shape just fabulous? In checking Amazon for the link this book is also available at a deep discount – the hardback is cheaper than the Kindle copy – and I can confess to spending way too long just drooling over the wonderful looking food.

I can’t believe just how easy it was to make a cake that looks so impressive! I made this particular recipe (rather than one of Nigellas which I will make in the near future) as Jess was trying a Vegan January and I am always up for a cooking challenge.This was a vegan chocolate mud cake I made. I wish I could share it with you – it tasted infinitely better than the title makes it sound. We had a slice each exactly as it was, but the next time we had it with chopped strawberries and some coconut soya yoghurt as a pudding. Delicious!

I have sewn something else which I will show as soon as I photograph that (I couldn’t do it at the same as the trousers as I was going out – I did put shoes on. Honest).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Work in progress

The tree has been decorated, the presents wrapped (and delivered or posted as appropriate), and I have only the food shopping to be done before Christmas can commence. Even more importantly today is my cut off day for any client sewing that is needed before Christmas, and I have finished everything to be collected – and so far the phone hasn’t rung (it is so tempting to let any calls now go to answerphone!)

Lemongrass sweater so far.

Lemongrass sweater so far.

Anyway, the work. The Lemongrass jumper is coming on very well. It is perfect conditions to sit in the evening and knit in front of the TV. I wasn’t certain that this pattern would be a good ‘telly’ pattern but once you settle into the front cable pattern it is very friendly. I am almost finished the bands, which leaves only the sleeves and collar to go. Shouldn’t take too long. However, I am a little concerned that I am going to look a bit like this…

What do you think?

Brown 'jeans' ready to cut out.

Brown ‘jeans’ ready to cut out.

Contrast cotton - for now.

Contrast cotton – for now.

Along with the knitting I have finally got the trouser pattern pinned to my (very elderly) Spanish cloth. It has an amazing amount of stretch for fabric of that vintage which probably explains why I bought it. I have no idea what the exchange rate was but I’m quite sure it was well worth the pesetas paid. I have been searching such scrap as I have available (a recent collection by my friendly art teacher has diminished the supply) and I think I may go with this floral sateen for pocket bags etc. Unless I find something better. Can you tell I’m not sold on it? My plan is to cut this out later and start sewing tomorrow.

I also had a lovely surprise recently. Linda of ‘Nice dress!Thanks, I made it!!’ had a Give away post a while back and I was the lucky person drawn out. The parcel arrived safely so I am now excited to try out my Wonder tape and Chaco liner pen. Don’t you love new sewing toys?

New toys!

New toys!

Thanks Linda!

I hope everyone out there in blogland is able to be doing what they really want right now. I will get back once the trousers and/or jumper are finished.

 


Planning…

Well doesn’t time fly? Since I last posted you could be forgiven for thinking I hadn’t done anything. Since I don’t post any clients work I can’t show you any proof – but I promise I have been very busy. In addition to that The Management scheduled a trip to Northumberland to visit an old friend who had moved back there….. and deliver our family Christmas presents! At the time I was informed of this I had about a week to buy said gifts. It would be fair to say I was not too impressed, but now that it is done I can relax a bit and finish my other preparations.

During my time under cover I have still been stalking the blogs I know and love, and reconnected with one I used to read a while ago and seemed to have vanished from my WordPress reader (anyone else have those sort of problems? – and if I haven’t commented on your blog in a while it may be that you have vanished off the list and I haven’t noticed yet for which I can only apologise).

Lemongrass_01_small2

The blog I have found again is the lovely Evie at Pendle stitches who not only sews but knits some wonderful things for her family. In the post you get to if you click on the link you will find the fabulous Lemongrass sweater by Joji Locatelli.

Yarn for jumper and fabric for trousers

Yarn for jumper and fabric for trousers

I thought that it was a fabulous sweater with some slightly different detailing (got to love that side feature!) and immediately hot footed it to Ravelry for the pattern. I was fortunate to receive an e-mail from the Wool Warehouse which gave me the incentive to get right on it and buy the yarn ready to start. I chose Drops Nepal in a lovely Pumpkin shade which I consider to be just right for autumn/winter. I really see too many dull shades from clients so like to introduce a little brightness myself where possible – and I love an orange colour in almost any circumstance.

The ideal partner for such a gorgeous coloured yarn is a pair of brown trousers – and my favourite pair are starting to look a bit shabby. OK, a lot shabby.

Priced in pesetas!

Priced in pesetas!

I have been dredging deep in my stash of late and found this lovely piece. A perfect fabric (though truly who knows what the composition is) and just the right quantity. I vaguely recalled buying this on a Spanish holiday but was both amazed and slightly appalled to discover it still had a price sticker on IN PESETAS! Oh, the shame. Now Spain adopted the Euro in January 1999 so I really think this lovely fabric has marinaded quite long enough and is to be made into my Jeanius jeans pattern with a couple of tweaks. There is a bit of lycra in the fabric so it will be perfect for trousers with a kind of jeans styling, but a bit smarter.

I have got rid of two large orders last weekend so I have a little more time to do something for myself – once I clear the family alterations! I have a bag from my mum, and a couple of things for my DD that she has been very patiently waiting for. I’m on it now. Honest.

Hopefully it wont be too long before I can make progress on my two garments.

Swimming progress

As you see from the ticker I am now at mile 19 – actually 19.2 – so I only have 2.8 miles left in the challenge. It seems to have lasted for ages but the end is in sight. Thanks for all your good wishes – and a special thank you to those who have sponsored me for Aspire. I have exceeded the amount I hoped to raise so I can only thank you for your generosity.

 


Instant sunshine

I know I have been missing again – but I have been sewing. For me!

I cut this pair of garments out weeks ago with the intention of getting them made up immediately so that they could be enjoyed in the summer sunshine. Hah! Who am I kidding. Firstly, customers always come first. Secondly, I live in the UK – sunshine is rare and must be appreciated when it is there. Where possible no sewing on sunny days!

Perfect for sunny weather

Perfect for sunny weather

As you can see these garments are made as fillers in a summer wardrobe. At least I sound organised. They were cut out weeks ago and left to mature gently while the weather got colder. They are both cut from a linen/viscose blend that I bought from Barrys Fabric Market in Birmingham. I think I may have even scored this from their £2 a metre table. It was pre washed and, though softer, still very nice to handle with a bit of crispness to it. And yes, it will crease like the devil but I don’t care.

Front pockets into the yoke seam

Patch pockets to back

The trousers were from my own block. After making the Vogue 2948 pattern included in the Sandra Betzina Craftsy course I decided I should really dust off the blocks and draft my own patterns again. I use the trouser block from Hilary Campbell rather than Winnie as I found the fit better. (But if you decide to try this check the waist measurement against yours – this block waist is for a neater waist than mine!).

The details on the original pattern were nice so I used that as a starting point. I liked the little front pockets into the yoke seam which were very easy to replicate, and used patch pockets to the back. I didn’t split the legs to give a centre seam as this was the first time in a while that this block had been used, and I moved the zipper to give a front fly. If I make these again I may split the leg to get the lovely Betzina design. I intend to make a separate trouser lining that can go under several pairs that would benefit from the extra layer. I could wear these as they are but….

Back vent, lined and mitered hem.

Back vent, lined and mitered hem corner.

Pockets, always useful for collecting stones and stuff.

The skirt is the same as this one which I based on Vogue 1247 which is a huge favourite across the interweb. Again, the pattern was from my block (Winnie Aldrich this time) and fitted almost without adjustment. Astonishingly I needed to take in the waist a little. Hmm. Because I had a bit of time I decided to make a bit of effort on the finish. My customers get this all the time, me – not so much. I did just overlock the seams but handpicked the lapped zipper and mitered the corners of the back vent. Not very time consuming but with a bit more effort all round on the finish I get a garment I am proud of rather than a rushed finish.

So all finished, and it is now too cold to wear these most days in the UK. I had been waiting (not long , I confess) for a warm day to photograph me wearing these but it just wasn’t working – though I can say I am happy with the fit of both garments and will post pictures eventually. The Management and I do have a bit of winter sunshine planned in the not too distant future so I hope to be able to make good use of them then.

On to warmer sewing now I suppose.


Vogue 2948 finished

Finished – but again I am not entirely happy with the result. I think part of the problem is that they have taken an unreasonably long time for ‘a pair of pants/trousers’. You might remember that I have been watching the Craftsy course ‘Pant fitting’ by Sandra Betzina. This Vogue pattern is in new sizing which relates better to todays figures (hence the name) but that didn’t mean that it would match everyone. That means me. Again.

The Craftsy course is pretty comprehensive, and I found it easy to follow the alterations that were demonstrated. I think that the Craftsy platform is pretty good, even if (or especially if) you are fairly new to sewing or pattern alteration as you can watch the video lessons as many times as you need to, and also ask questions which should be answered by the tutor. The whole course is worked around Vogue 2948 (included in the cost of the course) which is an ideal trouser for adjustment since it has princess seams and a yoke. The more seams available the easier a garment is to adjust.

I cut the size that appeared to fit my hips, having adjusted the pattern to be larger around my waist. All looked well, and I tried them on with the sides tacked to fit. CLOWN PANTS! I really couldn’t believe it – these were big. I checked the original pattern pieces and whilst I could find the finished waist size (3cm ease allowed) and the finished length I couldn’t find the finished hip size. Maybe I was just losing heart by then. One of the things that is stressed throughout the course is to avoid ‘over fitting’ – ie. taking out all the wearing ease to give a ‘skin fit’. We have all seen people wearing clothes like this and it is never a good look. Anyhow, I repinned and sewed the seams, fitting the zipper and just wanting to get this project to finish. (More haste…). See what you think.

Front - lightened to show better

Front – lightened to show better

Back - I didn't see those drag lines until now!

Back – I didn’t see those drag lines until now!

Lots of hip space!

Lots of hip space!

The fabric wasn’t expensive – this was intended as a wearable muslin – it is a basket weave polyester that I found in the £2 a meter pile at Barrys in Birmingham. These are good enough to wear, but not anywhere ‘special’. I am not sure what I was doing here – the pattern by size and adjustment should have been OK but it looks as if I have made them to grow into and I would rather not if you don’t mind! I hadn’t used a side zipper in pants (rarely in skirts either) and find I don’t really like it. I could try these again with the back zipper option but I don’t think I like the pattern enough to do so.

Polly-cotton (sorry!) trial available in size 16. Matching bias included.

Polly-cotton (sorry!) trial available in size 16. Matching bias included.

Since I was a bit fed up after making these I decided to have a bash at a quick project. Step up ‘ By Hand London’ Polly top. This looked perfect for my shape as I could make a top that fitted well over my bust but easily take in at the waist/hip so that it didn’t poke out in front. Again the sizes didn’t match me at all. I chose a bust, then the waist was up one size, and the hips went down two sizes from the waist. The finished measures looked better – the bust was the largest size, going down one for waist, and down again for hip. I printed, taped, traced off my size (Pffft!) and then went ahead in the scrap I had found to try out. Can I just say I am currently feeling deformed. I love the pattern, and it is clearly a very popular choice around blogland, but it isn’t for me. If anyone out there would like the taped PDF (and the white/blue poly trial in a 16) let me know and I will send it out happily.

Rather than going through lots of full bust alterations in order to make commercial patterns fit properly I have decided to get back to pattern cutting. I use this to make the patterns for my clients so it is about time I sorted my own blocks out again and got on with making my own patterns to fit my own clearly unique shape!

For anyone who doesn’t have a pattern cutting background and wants a great site to find out how to alter patterns for a full bust head over to Communing with Fabric where Shams (who has a very similar body shape to me) has already done a sterling job in explaining what is needed.


Tidying loose ends – and making jeans

I don’t know if anyone else will hold their hands up to this but I can procrastinate at Olympic level. Probably gold medal Olympic level. One of the things that is guaranteed to sit me down with a magazine and a cup of tea rather than doing what I am supposed to be doing is chaos. You know the stuff – the pictures of garments from magazines for your wish list, repairs/alterations that shouldn’t take long (once you actually get down to it), projects cut out – or even started (UFO’s) and sitting awaiting attention.

Well, in two separate magazines I have read recently had articles about/by  Gretchen Rubin who is a happiness guru. Who wouldn’t read that? She has written a book called ‘Better Than Before’ and what was detailed in the article I read was very interesting – and eye-opening. She identifies the sort of problems that I certainly recognise, but then suggests ways to correct them dependent on what category you fit. One of the main things to stop you being effective/happy is just that – chaos. So, how to improve?

There are four categories to choose from  – Upholders (self-directed, follows rules easily), Questioner (needs to know why they should do something), Rebel (do I need say?), and Obliger. Guess which I fall into? Yes, obliger. The sort of person who can hit deadlines, demands, and responsibilities – just not if they are for themselves. The doormats of the habit world. Humph.

Ms Rubin suggests that we can all be better by making things into good habits rather than choices. Makes sense, easier just to do something than to decide if you want to do something. As an obliger I can improve my chances of actually doing what I want for myself by committing to accompany someone (exercise buddy, class or such), or announce my intent.

Following reading the article I have gone back to writing myself an achievable ‘to do’ list daily which includes something for myself daily. That may be to go for a swim, or to sew something that will make my own life better. Stress the my own as opposed to family – which I know I would do anyway.

Velvet Jeanius

Gargoyles of the world unite…

Velvet Jeanius

Not a bad rear fit.

Progress? I found two pairs of velvet jeans which had been cut out in January, prior to my client flurry, which I knew fitted as they were from my Jeanius pattern. Since they counted as clutter/UFO’s I decided to get stuck in on those.

I hadn’t cut the pockets and zip guards/facings so I had fun riffling through the scrap bag to find suitable innards. I thought these looked pretty.

Great 'scrap' inners

Great ‘scrap’ inners

I am glad to shift this long standing project. Velvet jeans. Just in time for spring. Perfect. Despite the bad timing I am happy to have them done and feel a blockage has been shifted so I can get on with other stuff now. I promise, no more Jeanius for a good while – we are all getting bored with them (despite them being such a good addition to my wardrobe).

Another result of reading the articles, and thinking about how I intended my life to change somewhat now that I am reducing the amount of client work I intend to take, is that I have decided I really must reduce my stash. I had a fair amount of fabric left from when I stopped trading as The Material Lady and I don’t want it all hanging around. When I get things sorted into what stays and what goes I will list some of the ‘fabric to go’ for sale on this blog. Not all will be ex-TML fabric – I have to confess to buying more fabric than is reasonable for longer than I can remember so there will be all sorts of things. Probably even some Linton Tweed.

On another note, I have been taking ‘adult improver’ swimming lessons (I have only wanted to do this for about a year….). Yes, I am a scuba diver but actual swimming was never my ‘fun’ activity because my neck was always so sore afterwards. Janet Street Porter identified the style as swimming like the Loch Ness monster recently! Anyhoo, I am now better and have signed up for a swimming challenge next week to swim 1.5 km and raise some money for Marie Curie Nurses. Wish me luck!