Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Giant Granny Square

There isn't really a huge amount that can be said about a blanket which is just a big granny square so this is going to be a very picture heavy post!

I started making this blanket in January (although I have made 2 baby blankets in that time too) as I wanted something I could just sit and do without thinking about while watching television.  A kind of break from creativity whilst being creative!  It doesn't feel like it has taken that long to do and if I hadn't run out of wool I could have carried on indefinitely!

The wool I used is Rico Creative Cotton (Aran) from Wool Warehouse.  This is a really nice wool for crochet which I also used for a few samples I made for my local Guides when we were doing crochet last term.

 I picked the colours of pale blue, yellow and two types of grey because when we eventually have a proper bedroom these are the colours I would like to use.  I am currently working on a quilt in similar colours which I hope to have finished sometime this year (it's been going for over a year now!).

 Although this blanket is "finished" I haven't done a special edging or border on it as I still think I may add to it at some point in the future.  It is just big enough to cover the end of a double bed at the moment but I know we will be getting a king size so I could potentially want it a bit bigger, and I think it would look amazing if it was big enough to hang to the ground all the way round.  With it using over a ball per round now I think I will have to start saving!

My friend, Kara, took these lovely pictures of my blanket at the beach on Saturday (she also took these amazing pictures).  It was such a fantastic day and it really makes me appreciate what a beautiful area of the world we live in, so thank you very much Kara!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Oliver & S Puppet Show Set

Okay, I made this pattern last July but as I am busy sewing sun lounger cushion covers at the moment I thought I would blog an old make, especially as it still gets worn a lot (although the shorts are a bit snug now!).

The Pattern is the Oliver & S Puppet Show Tunic, Dress and Shorts pattern.  The size runs from 2T to 5 and I chose to make the 3T for my then 3 year old.  I bought the fabric from ebay after hunting for it for quite a while.  I had a metre of the main fabric and half a metre of the coordinating print which I used for the collar, facings and cuffs.  The short fabric is a strange denim print cotton which came from my parents.  I think it was bought to make curtains which never materialised (sorry, pun intended!!).

I trimmed the collar and bodice with ric rac because, RIC RAC!  I think it looks great and I use it on loads of the Child's clothes.  It is quicker to use than piping and I love the effect of a bit of contrasting colour and texture.  In this case it help camouflage the poor child whose head got decapitated by bad pattern matching!  I tried really hard to match the front of the dress and got two heads out of three in situ.  Oh well, two out of three ain't bad!  I didn't even try to pattern match the back as I didn't have enough fabric.

 This pattern, like all the Oliver & S patterns I have sewed with, has excellent instructions and is very clear.  Everything fit together really well and I didn't have any problems making it.  However, it was fairly time consuming which has put me off making a second version of this which I would really love to do soon before the Child outgrows the pattern.  I hand finished the hem and back opening, which could have been done on the machine but I did stitch the inside bodice facing down on the machine because there was only so much hand sewing I was willing to do on a child's garment!

 Having said that I do love this now it's done so maybe I will have a go at a second version soon.  I think it would work quite well as a long sleeved dress for the winter, maybe in denim with some embroidery on the yoke.  Something to think about!

 While I had the fabric out I quickly made a matching dress for Edwina.  The pattern I used is the free Oliver & S Popover Sundress which has a matching dress for an 18 inch doll included.  The width is fine on Edwina but I had to take quite a lot off the length to compensate for her bear proportions! Making things for bears is not always top on my priorities list but it is a nice way to use up scraps of treasured fabric.  I also made some matching hair bows, another free Oliver & S download perfect for scraps.  I didn't have any fabric left after all that, I think I made the most of my 1.5 metres of fabric!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Clémence meets Megan

At the big sewing meet up in London back in May I purchased some rather lovely yellow eyelet fabric which I fell in love with.  At £8 per metre it was the most expensive fabric I bought that day but still good value.  I bought 2 metres and in my excitement to sew it up before the end of MMM I rushed into making it into something it wasn't suited for.  Given my propensity for wearing separates I thought it would be best as a skirt, and would get the most use that way.  However I paid very little attention to the fabric itself, the weight and how it hangs, and just forged on ahead with my plan to sew two items from Tilly's book, Love at First Stitch.  The resultant skirt just didn't suit me, it was too puffy (especially as I lined it) and I knew as soon as I finished it that I would be remaking it.

In the interests of openness and honesty, a really unflattering picture!
So, I did.  Sticking to Tilly's book I chose the Megan dress pattern.  The simple line of this dress suit the weight and drape of this fabric much better.  Unfortunately I am very time poor when it comes to sewing (as are most of us with a hobby!) so I decided (having made a couple of Tilly's patterns before) to jump straight in without making a muslin.  This was possibly a mistake but I decided to risk it rather than wait and not have a new dress in time (for what I am not quite sure!).

Before cutting out the fabric I made some changes to the pattern pieces based on changes I make to almost every pattern I have ever sewed with.  I took out a wedge from the back and a wedge from the front neckline.  I should have checked the length of the bodice as that is another change I often have to make, having quite a low bust.

When it came to sewing up I constantly held the bodice up against myself to check on fit and realised it was going to be a bit short.  I sewed the shoulder and waist seams with minimal seam allowances to compensate but it is a wee bit on the snug side.  The only other change I made was to fully line the dress because of the holes in the fabric.

I cut the bodice and sleeves out of the old skirt pieces and squeezed the new skirt pieces out of the remaining fabric I had left over.  I managed to cut both the skirt and the sleeves on border edge so no hemming - win!  I also cut the lining skirt pieces from the old lining skirt pieces which were already hemmed so really no hemming - double win!

This should have been a very straightforward quick make, the pattern is so well drafted and written with lovely explanations that I could have made this in an evening.  I did make most of it in one evening, all I had left to do was put the lining in but I then decided to take the beautifully inserted but cream zip out and change it for a yellow zip which of course did not go in quite so easily!  The waist is a little out of sync but I am not going to change it now and realistically speaking only another sewer will notice (I hope!).

All in all I am really happy with this dress and I am so pleased I made it.  It would have been such a shame to waste such glorious fabric on a skirt that would never get worn!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

By Hand London Anna Part 2

When I made my Anna dress there were a couple of fitting niggles that I had. Nothing major, and nothing that has stopped me from wearing it about a million times! But still, just things that I wanted to improve before I make another dress, which I will because I love the style and general fit on me.    So I decided to made a top version before committing time and fabric to a whole dress.

I had a metre of fabric from Stone Fabrics which I am sure I bought as an archive Liberty print but this really doesn't feel like Liberty fabric.  I love it so I am not that bothered but I would be interested to know if this really is a Liberty design.

I started by taking a wedge out of the front neckline and a wedge out of the back neck.  I also lengthened the pattern just under the armholes so the bust darts started a bit lower to give my lovelies a bit more space! I had lengthened the pattern a bit to what I thought would be top length but it wasn't enough, so I then sewed a band onto the bottom.

The end result isn't perfect but I am now happy with the fit of the bodice.  I have some beautiful silk Flossie bought for me in China a while ago which would be perfect as an Anna.   The realist in me knows I *ought* to be sewing sensible things which are missing in my current wardrobe and I do have a long list of things to sew at the moment but I would like to find a use for the silk and (hopefully) do it justice.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Sporty Summer Sewathon

When Karen announced her Sporty Summer Sewathon I really, really didn't think I would take part because I don't generally wear shorts, never mind about real exercise clothes!  However, on Friday evening I was sorting through my sewing patterns for no particular reason and I came across this beauty:

I don't even remember buying this pattern and had completely forgotten I owned it but I am so glad I found it!  I had a quick look in my fabric cupboard and found three metres of stretch denim I bought from Minerva Crafts (stripes and patterned).  I had intended to use the striped denim to make the child a little blazer and the patterned to make a skirt for me but I think this is a better use!

I made a quick muslin of the shorts in some furnishing fabric to check the rough fit then got started on the skirt.  Because of the amount of stretch in this fabric I wasn't too concerned with getting the fit exact.

The skirt is a wrap around skirt fastening with two buttons at the back and was really straight forward to put together.  I love the huge pockets on the front and cut them on the cross grain for added visual interest. I really like the effect of the stripes on the centre front seam, pockets and waistband.

For the shorts I used the patterned denim but did not have enough to cut a waistband out of.  The pattern actually has a waistband half the size and is fastened at the side using hook and eyes.  Aside from the fact that I did not have hook and eyes I decided an invisible zip would be much better.  The only other change I made to the pattern was to lengthen them by 5cm.  I really like the fit of these shorts and have shocked myself by actually wearing them in public today, not just for the photo shoot!

The top is a Colette Sorbetto made using leftovers from the one I made for Flossie.  There wasn't enough of the border left so this one is plain and is cut on the cross grain.  I used some Liberty Lifestyle cotton for the bias binding which I think looks really pretty.  I have made myself a few Sorbettos and always make the same changes.  I have taken out the front pleat, raised the shoulder seam, lowered the front darts and added ones at the back.

This outfit has been a complete surprise and revelation to me.  Aside from finding a pattern I didn't know I had, I didn't imagine I would make myself some shorts, never mind wear them in public!  I am so happy with the whole outfit and I had a fantastic time with my friend Kara taking the photos.  So thank you Karen for encouraging me to try something new!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Gift Sewing 2

Recently it was a friend's little girl's 1st birthday and I wanted to make something personal to send to her.  I have made a few things for her big brother and wanted to make sure she got the same treatment.

I used the bucket hat pattern from the Little Things to Sew book by Oliver + S (this is also available as a free version here).  I made the small size and used some Liberty Lifestyle fabric I had in my cupboard.  The instructions say to make up the two crowns, then make the brim and attach it to one crown then hand stitch the other on top.  I didn't want to hand stitch, so machine stitched the two parts together and then hid the resulting messy join with a strip of bias binding which I hand stitched on!! Oh well, it makes a nice design feature!

I then decided to make a second version of the hat for a friend of my brother who had a baby boy earlier in the year.  This time I made two complete hats then stitched them together at the brim leaving a gap for turning through and then top stitched rows of stitching.  This way felt much easier, I would be interested to know the reason for constructing it as per the instructions.

This time I made the extra small size and used some hole punched denim with a bit of stretch for one side and purple gingham for the other.  The gingham was lovely and soft so should feel nice against a baby's head (I hope) and the denim lends it some stability.  The stretch element of the denim definitely made the construction easier and quicker.

I actually cut out and started constructing a third version of this hat using some leftover Liberty lawn and chambray.  I was going to make the medium size for my girl but I could not make the pieces fit together at the crown.  I tried to make this hat last year and had the same problem and presumed it was user error but this time I traced and cut the pieces out really carefully.  Having made the extra small and small without any problems I found this very frustrating, especially as I was using treasured fabric!  I think I will try to make the large and see if I have the same issues.

However, I am really happy with the two successful hats.  They use very little fabric so are perfect for leftover bits and I think they make lovely gifts, I just hope the recipients like them too!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Gift Sewing 1

About two years ago I asked my cousin, Flossie, if I could make her a dress. I had got the pattern free with a magazine (it was this Cynthia Rowley one) and it wasn't in my size but I still wanted to make it because I thought the bodice looked interesting. I ordered the fabric, zip, lining, etc and got to work.  It was all going swimmingly but for some reason I suddenly stopped and still haven't finished it.  I think I felt like the pattern was too advanced for a beginner to be tackling and I wasn't competent enough to do it justice.  It only needs a zip installing (still sitting in my sewing box) and hemming but still I haven't done anything about it so it hangs in my sewing room staring balefully at me.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago Flossie happened to say that she liked my broderie Colette Sorbetto (seen here in MMM) so I decided to make her one in lieu of a dress.

The fabric came from Stone Fabrics and was in the Cloth Club for the last quarter.  It has a beautiful border on one edge of the fabric so no hemming!

I omitted the front pleat because although the background fabric is very sheer the embroidery makes it feel quite heavy especially on the border.  I also felt with such beautiful fabric simplicity was better.

I lengthened the top by quite a lot because Flossie is tall and I envisioned her wearing this with skinny jeans or leggings.  I also lowered the bust darts because I do for me and I've read other people also have to with this pattern.

I think the fit on her is really good and I'm really pleased I made it.  It took less than an evening to make, the pattern was free and I enjoyed making it so all in all it's a win!  One day maybe I'll finish her dress for her too!