Saturday, 27 December 2014

Jenna Cardi for Mum!

This is the last of my Christmas sewing which luckily I finished just before leaving to come and stay with my parents in Switzerland for Christmas.

I saw the jersey in Stone Fabrics and immediately thought of Mum.  Her favourite colours are bluey greens and turquoise and she loves interesting fabric (she has a degree in textiles) so this is perfect for her.  The fabric is fabric is described as vintage, which actually describes it quite well.  It has less stretch than the fabric I used for my Jenna Cardi but it works really well and I think will be lovely and warm.

The ribbing has been sat in my stash for quite a few years but I only had enough to the neck, bottom and button bands.  I didn't realise as I was making it but I should have taken a bit off the length because it has gone frilly around the bottom.  I offered to take it all the ribbing off and change it for main fabric binding instead but luckily Mum likes it how it is.

The pattern is the Jenna cardi from Muse Patterns which I have used before for me, and which I won in a giveaway from Rachel at House of Pinheiro.  I made the size 38 this time and the fit is pretty perfect for Mum.  I made option without the gathers on the front and I really like this.  When I made another for me I will try this view.  As before it sewed up really well and without problems, and because I had made it before it went together really quickly.

As before I got some pretty awesome poses off my Mum, so I thought I would leave you with a selection!!  I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas and are looking forward to a very happy New Year!!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Crafting Part 4 - Christmas Wreaths

Inspired by Marilla Walker's Christmas decoration swap, I made some Christmas decorations!

The first is a knitted wreath that I decided to make on a whim.  I really fancied doing some colour work and wanted a small project after finishing my last cardigan, however this backfired slightly as it took waaaay longer to knit that I first thought it was going to!!  I used a chart I found on a scarf pattern on Ravelry which was actually too wide but I had already started this before I realised and just continued!  I also knitted two rows twice, possibly after a glass of wine, and decided to leave it in as a design detail!  

After I finished knitting the right length I sewed the two ends together, wrapped it around the wreath (found from Minerva Crafts) and sewed the edges.  Because it is knitted it moulded quite nicely to the shape of the wreath.  I finished it off with some satin ribbon I had removed from a cardigan and some beautiful decorations I bought when I went to visit the lovely Portia a couple of weeks ago.

The second wreath I made as part of the Christmas decoration swap.  I wound some thick grey wool around and around the polystyrene wreath, which took longer than it sounds!  I then embroidered the writing on some red fabric and attached some pompoms.  Quite simple, but quite effective I think!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas Crafting Part 3 - Last Minute Teacher Presents

This post would not exist if it were not for the extraordinary lack of organisation from a fairly big company.  I ordered some tins of biscuits from an online retailer* to save me the hassle of making teacher presents, and when I phoned up to ask them why they had not arrived a week later (or even been despatched, I'm still waiting for them...) they just said they had been very busy.  Now I'm not one to tell other people how to do their jobs but I reckon I could have told them they may be a little bit busy in December, well in advance!!

Oh well.  So last night I suddenly realised that I needed to come up with a present of some sorts by this morning as it was our last day of term.  I asked the Child what she thought we could do and she suggested fudge (a favourite in this house) and a little bag to put them in.  Okay then.

The Child chose some fabrics from the stash, two coordinating prints I have had since forever, and I made two boxy pouches with alternate fabrics on the inside and outside.  I used a tutorial I found on Pinterest but can't find the same one again, however there are lots out there.  I didn't use the measurements it said anyway, I just read it for the construction.

For the fudge, I made up a new Christmas fudge recipe that I thought others may find useful so have written it down in case anyone else is caught short without a gift this Christmas!

Christmas Fudge
1 x 397g tin of condensed milk
250g granulated sugar
200g dark brown soft sugar
110g butter
150ml milk
1 tsp (or to taste) cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice

1. Put all the ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat and stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the butter melted.
2. Bring to the boil and boil, whilst stirring, until the mixture will set when a little is dropped onto a plate.  This should take around 10 mins.
3. Take the pan off the heat and beat vigorously for as long as possible or until your arm drops off.  Less beating will result in a chewier texture. Then pour out into a tin to set.  I use a 18cm square tin lined with foil.
4. Mark out squares before the mixture sets too much to make cutting later easier (I forgot this time and it cracked a bit).  Lick the spoon while waiting for it to set, trying to avoid burning your tongue (voice of experience!)

*It was Lakeland Ltd just in case anyone was wondering

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Françoise Mark II

Françoise, meet Mathilde.  Mathilde, meet Françoise.  I think you two will be very happy together!

When I blogged about my first Françoise dress I said I was going to do a proper muslin before I cut into my "real" fabric.  Well, I didn't quite get around to it, I just decided that the fit would be fine and merrily cut away.  And I am glad I did because I am in love with this dress!!

The fabric came from Croft Mill ages ago and is British wool.  I originally bought it to make a pencil skirt with but changed my mind after making a trial version which just does not work.  I have been saving it since then waiting for the perfect project and was just about decided on turning it into a Delphine from Love at First Stitch  when Tilly announced the release of this pattern.  I only had a metre, but that was enough for the dress itself.

There is a lovely yellow check running through the fabric, so I had already decided on pairing it with the Mathilde blouse before deciding what pattern to use.  (There is also going to be a coordinating Archer but that may be a long way off - it's been planned for about a year so far!).  I had plenty of the yellow fabric from the Mathilde left so used that for the bindings and also on the hem.

After checking the general fit on my first version of this, the only thing change I made to that pattern was to lower the bust and waist darts on the front by about 2cm, which I did on my first one too.  Other than that the fit is pretty spot on.  I kept the length as per the pattern and although it is probably shorter than I would normally wear, I don't think it is too short, although I wouldn't wear it without tights.

I really, really love this dress.  I wondered about lining it and even cut out some lining fabric but decided against it on the grounds that I can always wear a slip underneath, and I think it needs one to stop it sticking to tights.  I wasn't wearing one for these photos and I can see it clinging a bit.  Overall though, I am happy.  I am planning on wearing it to a Christmas party this weekend.

I have a few other versions of future Françoise dresses in my head.  I would love a denim/chambray one with a collar, and another ponte version as  my last one is just so comfortable.  I find this style of dress so wearable and customisable that I think there are going to be a few in my future!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Christmas Crafting Part 2 - Two Mini Pennies

Since the Child still hasn't grown that much lately she doesn't particularly need any new clothes, but I thought a new dress for Christmas would be nice.  Browsing Flickr one morning with the Child next to me, we saw this dress and immediately she asked me to make her one like it.  So with some help from Fiona, who made it, I tracked down the fabric and ordered a metre from Dots n Stripes (it's still in stock!!).

I was originally going to copy the inspiration dress exactly but when I found out that my Niece will be with us for Christmas I could not resist and decided to make coordinating dresses and felt the solid red (from KitschyCoo) went better with both fabrics.  My Niece has a longstanding Hello Kitty obsession and I had mentioned to her in the summer that I had seen some lovely Hello Kitty jersey so it was obvious which fabric to choose for her!  This came from Stone Fabrics, and is lovely but I'm pretty sure it wasn't £14.60 per metre when I bought it! 

The pattern is the fab Mini Penny Pinafore pattern from KitschyCoo.  I have made this a few times before and it is *almost* as popular with the Child as the Skater, but not quite!  I constructed the dresses on my overlocker and just used my normal machine for the hems and neckline.  They were so quick to make, I made both of them in one evening while watching television (Portlandia, if you are interested!).

 One of the great things about the pattern is that because the front and back panels are quite slim, you can squeeze this out of a relatively small piece of fabric.  The first top below was made out of offcuts from my first Renfrew and is lovely and Christmassy for this time of year (although it does get worn all year round!). The second top and the dress were both made with fabrics from KitschyCoo, Zoe recently made her beautiful girl a dress out of the yellow fabric which looks fab!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Christmas Crafting Part 1 - Pyjamas!

I normally make sure the Child has some new (to her) pyjamas at Christmas time purely so that when we take pictures of her opening her stocking on Christmas morning she isn't in tatty, stained, greyish looking things!  Usually these are second hand purchases off eBay or charity shops however this year, as my niece will be with us, I decided to make matching Christmas pyjamas.

I used the same pattern for the bottoms as I did for my last pair.  There is just one pattern piece and I actually cut these out and sewed the seams at the same time as the others.  I have only overlocked the seams, I don't know if they will last as well as if I had sewed them on a sewing machine first but I was feeling particularly lazy when I did it!  

I put a piece of ribbon in the back waistband of each pair to easily identify the back.  I used a different colour ribbon for my niece and daughter as they are slightly different sizes.   I also top stitched down the middle of the elastic to prevent it from twisting in the wash.

For the tops I completely cheated and bought plain, white, long sleeved t-shirts off eBay.  (These were actually advertised as boys and are from a major high-street retailer.  I am quite tempted to ask them what makes plain white t-shirts gender specific.)  I then embroidered the girls' names on some spare fabric and appliqued it on the front.  Because of the patterned fabric it doesn't show up that well from a distance but overall I'm happy with it. 

The fabric came from an eBay seller and I used just under 2m for these. It is a Riley Blake print and is really soft and thick.  I have got some leftover but not enough for anything substantial.  I am quite surprised at how much fabric pyjama bottoms need!  

I hope the girls will love their matching personalised pyjamas.  It might even encourage them to go to bed at a reasonable time on Christmas eve!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Françoise Mark I

I made something!  Life has been really hectic around here lately and I feel like I haven't finished anything for ages but I managed to squeeze a dress in.  The pattern is the newly released Françoise from Tilly which I bought at soon as it went on sale.  I didn't think I would be making it this side of Christmas but temptation won!

In my head I have the perfect vision of how I want a Françoise to look, and I even have the fabric sitting in my cupboard waiting for something perfect such as this pattern to come along.  However, for my first attempt I wanted to see what the general fit was like, and being very time poor at the moment I didn't want to make a non-wearable muslin.  So I hunted in my stash and found this cheap polyester ponte roma with great big hummingbirds flying around on it.

There are so many issues with this fabric I am not sure where to start.  Firstly, the stretch runs perpendicular to the pattern so this fabric is completely unsuitable for a Lady Skater which is what it was originally bought for.  Secondly it is printed and is white on the inside, but is also quite see-through so will probably need a slip underneath.  Thirdly, I didn't have quite enough to make this dress so there is a pieced triangle on the back bottom hem.

Lastly, and most importantly, because of the size of the print I had to omit the waist darts on the front and back.  So really not much of a good test garment then!  Next time I will make a muslin, and definitely before I cut into the perfect stash fabric!  As usual for Tilly's patterns, this was a delight to sew.  Everything went together extremely well and the instructions were perfect.  I made a size 4 and the only alteration I made (except for omitting most of the darts!) was to lower the bust darts.

What I do like about this version is the fit on most of it, and the pattern matched zip!  I think I could do with taking some width out of the upper back but other than that it looks okay.  For my next version I was intending to try my first FBA but looking at these pictures I am not sure it is needed.  Any thoughts?  Overall I am happy with this dress.  I am wearing it out to dinner tonight so it will get a full outing then.  

My father-in-law was kind enough to take these photos, and most of them are great, but I have no idea what he was hoping to achieve with this one!!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Pyjama Drama

So it turns out that before you start sewing for someone you should measure them first.  Who knew?  Not me apparently!  Despite the fact that the pyjamas that these were made to replace are size 2-3 (hence needing new ones, she turns 5 in three months!!) I still went ahead and made size 5.  In my defence she is nearly 5 and I wanted plenty of room to grow because I hate making pyjamas so I didn't want to have to replace them for a while.  But still, I should have checked the envelope before I cut them out.  Actually before I bought the pattern because I bought the 4-5-6 size range when she actually falls between sizes 2 and 3.  So I ended up making two pyjama tops because the first was unwearably too big.

Luckily I had enough fabric that I could recut the top and make another in size 4 which still swamps her but is a lot better and actually wearable.  The fabric came from Fabrics Galore at the Knitting and Stitching show two years ago.  I actually bought it to make a pair of pyjamas for me but I only ever got round to making the bottoms.  It is the softest, most beautiful brushed cotton in a delightfully twee print!

The pattern I used is Butterick 4647 which says it is fast and easy - and it is.  There is just one pattern piece for the bottoms and 4 for the top so cutting out was really quick.  Which was good because I did it twice! (really not bitter about having to make 2 tops!).  I let the child choose which version she wanted me to make.  Initially she was going for the button up seen on the boy bottom right, but she wanted the elastic sleeves and lots of ric rac, but she then changed her mind and went for the flouncy one!
 She was still insistent on the ric rac so I sandwiched some in on the bodice seam.  I was thinking about putting more round the neck and cuffs but it gets lost on the busy print and I felt the style of top was frilly enough without extra embellishment, although I would normally say you can never have enough ric rac!

There is a button fastening at the back (although at the moment the top is so big it is superfluous!) but being really quite lazy I used a hair elastic as a button loop.  It works and is a really quick solution.  The button is another one from my friend's grandmother's button box and is so pretty I felt it had to be used on here.

The child is really happy with her new pyjamas.  I think they are the girliest thing she has ever owned, and they should last at least until she starts university!  I still hate making pyjamas, life just feels too short to be making something that gets worn in bed, but I am pleased I made them.  Next up I'm making two more pairs of pyjamas for the Child and her Cousin for Christmas, and then I'm never making pyjamas again!!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Girl Friday Cardi

Have you ever planned something and been so excited by it that you actually thought it was already finished?  This is what happened with this cardigan.  For the last few weeks I've been reaching for it only to find it wasn't there because, duh, it wasn't finished yet!

I love knitting but cannot knit in the round.  Well I expect I could if I had to but I really don't want to.  That is what my Mum is for.  So I was on the hunt for a flat knitted cardigan that would be suitable for Cascade 220 wool.  I had bought some of this for my Mum to make my last cardigan and it was so nice I bought some more for me to use.  I chose to go with fairly neutral grey because I was anticipating this getting a lot of wear but then brightened it up with the turquoise accents because I do like a bit of colour.  I think the combination works really well and since finishing this last Sunday I have worn it every day!  The buttons came in a big button box which was a gift from a very lovely friend.  She thinks they were her Great Aunt's and I am truly grateful to her for amassing such a fantastic collection of buttons!!

The pattern is Girl Friday from Knitty, Fall 2009.  It is a really nicely written pattern and very straight forward to knit.  I only really knit on weekend evenings so although I have been working on this since August is doesn't feel like a lot of work.  Two to three evenings a week over 10ish weeks isn't bad for a cardigan, especially when my last piece of knitwear took a year (with other bits in between) and I'm not that happy with it now! I do love this though.

The lace pattern is very easy to remember and get into the rhythm of so halfway up the back I no longer needed to be staring at the chart and from then on this cardigan sped along.  It does help that it is knit on 5mm needles.  I had a few issues with the collar not folding down neatly but I have just realised this is because I knitted it on the wrong size needles (oops!).  I have fixed the problem by tacking down the collar all the way along the back so it stays where it is supposed to.  I like it like this, no rearranging when I put it on or take it off, so it's all good.  

 Now I just need to decide on my next project.  I have narrowed it down to 1 of about 10 from my huge collection of Stitchcraft magazines.  I had wanted to do a christmas jumper but time is decidedly short now so I think it will be a compromise.  I'm hoping to get the wool ordered this weekend so I can make a start on it next week.  Below is the current favourites with the forerunner on the left, decisions decisions!!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A handbaaaaag!

I made a handbag!  I am seriously chuffed with myself, not because it was difficult (it wasn't) but because it is something that I would normally push to the back of the queue for when I have time and then never find the time to make.

This project is the kind that evolves on its own accord and before I knew it I was making a bag without really knowing how I got to that point!  I saw a bag I kind of liked the look of but didn't want to buy, then saw that Stone Fabrics had some really lovely waxed cotton from Barbour at a reasonable price and thought it would be a nice alternative to a leather bag.   I love the used look of this bag already and I know the more it gets used, the better its going to look!

I had already bought some beagle print fabric which I believe is also a Barbour fabric (not entirely sure about that!) which I had found from Crafty Baba's Ebay shop (it seems to be out of stock now but Guthrie-Ghani has some) and thought this would make a great lining.  I then saw that there was a handbag pattern in issue 6 of Love Sewing magazine.  Plans started coming together!

I veered slightly away from the pattern in that I put a zipped pocket in the back of the bag for essentials.  I also used a magnetic closure because that was what I had.  A friend had happened to give me a bag with a broken zip a few weeks ago because she thought it would be useful, and how right she was!  I took all the hard wear for this bag from it and another broken bag I had squirrelled away.  I was surprised at how easy it was to sew through the fake leather buckle strap bit.  I had to unpick all the original stitching as it was cream, but it didn't take long to redo the top stitching then attach the strap to the front flap.

Sewing with the waxed cotton was really interesting and not as hard as I thought it was going to be, in fact it was really quite easy!  I did try ironing it just to see what would happen (the wax melted, obviously!!).  Because it is slightly sticky it did not need pins which was great although I did put a couple in and they didn't mark.  I found the best thing for pressing the seams open was to run a knife along them and I also used the knife to mark the fabric.

The strap is my favourite part of this bag.  I used the sliders I harvested from one of the bags to make it adjustable so I can wear it either as a shoulder bag or a cross body bag which I find is especially useful in the winter when straps slide off bulky coats.  It was so easy to make but so satisfying!!

The construction of this was very straight forward and was a nice, easy bag pattern.  I have made a few bags before but always tote style shopping bags with no closures.  It did take while to make because there are quite a lot of pieces but I took my time and really enjoyed making it.  The husband has just walked in and asked for one for him but "bigger and more like a man bag" so I guess I'm going to be making more bags in the future!  Another thing to add to my Christmas sewing list....