Sunday, 31 August 2014

Knitting/Sewing Swap

My lovely Mum and I have a deal.  She knits for me and I sew for her.  I CAN knit, but I only like knitting flat and she is so much quicker than me (I am also easily distracted and start too many projects at once!).  Likewise my Mum CAN sew but with her lifestyle it is easier for her to pick up knitting in the evening than sewing.  So far I've come off better from this deal but I have passed on a few of my makes which don't fit me as well as they fit her.

Recently I really wanted a Marion cardigan by Andi Satterlund but since this is completely not my style of knitting I asked Mum if she would oblige.  I chose Cascade 220 wool in Butter from Wool Warehouse (I am also using this wool for my next project and it is really lovely to work with).  I posted the wool out to Switzerland and lo and behold on my arrival I was greeted with a lovely new cardigan!

I am really happy with my choice.  My only reservation is that it is shorter and tighter than I would normally wear but I chose the size based on my measurements.  I think next time I would ask my Mum to go up a size for comfort but since I have worn this at least 5 times since I took possession of it I am obviously not that bothered (and I am wearing it today!).  I have actually asked her to design me a cardigan to my exact specifications since I can't find what I want so I am looking forward to that!  Mum has a Ravelry page but there are only three projects on it at the moment.  She does ask why she should update it and I can't think of a better reason than "because I want you to"!

There are some very odd effects going on in this picture, the back doesn't have stripes down it!
For her part of the bargain, my Mum chose some Kokka fabric from The Village Haberdashery and we used the free pattern that came with issue 3 of Love Sewing Magazine (which my lovely friend Kara gave me for my birthday - thank you!).  Going by the pattern's measurements and given the amount of ease in the pattern we decided to sew the Medium size, but this is still quite loose, which is fine for a summer tunic.

As I forgot to take the magazine itself with me which included the pattern instructions I did have to wing the construction of this.  However it is very straightforward and I don't think I did anything differently with the exception of top stitching the facings down as I hate flappy facings.  I didn't interface the facings as this fabric is slightly stiffer than what the pattern calls for.  Also, there is only one pocket as we ran out of fabric to pattern match them.  

I am really pleased with how this tunic turned out.  Although I didn't pattern match at the side seams I did make sure the pattern was running at the same level across the front and back.  This was a very simple sew and lovely project to do on holiday.  I have another top planned for my Mum when I have cleared my current backlog of projects (probably around Christmas!) and I just need her to choose some more fabric for it.  I will leave you with her fantastic poses she did for me while I was taking the photos!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Blog Hop!

So, I was nominated by my lovely friend Marilla to take part in this blog hop just before I went away.  I had every intention of doing this before now but, well, life.   So....

No making photos, so holiday photos instead!

What have you been doing / making / scribbling at your desk this week?

I have been on my holibobs so have been a bit less productive than usual but I did take some fabric away with me.  I managed to finish a couple of things including a soon to be blogged top for my lovely Mum in exchange for a cardigan she knitted for me.  I did really miss my knitting while I was away so I was pleased I took some fabric with me to play with.

Where are you currently finding your inspirations? (Influences, heroes, sources of inspirations, paths exploring)?

Primarily the internet.  I have been an avid blog reader for the past four or five years.  I have always crafted (I used to be a chef, I have been knitting for years and have sewed intermittently) but after my daughter was born four and a half years ago I started looking for tutorials to help me make stuff for her and found loads of sewing blogs.  I have learnt so much through reading them and am continuously inspired by the lovely people of the internet.  I am also addicted to Instagram at the moment and love seeing what people are making.

Niece on left wearing Granny knitted cardi, daughter on right wearing me knitted cardi!

How important is being creative to you, and how do you blend this with your work / life / family balance?

Without going into detail, the last few years have been pretty stressful.  My husband and I run our own business, we are trying to build a house and expand our family.  Without having a creative release I do not think we would have got through as well as we have.  When I stopped being a chef and went into office jobs I picked up my knitting after a few years break because I really missed the creativity.  I come from a long line of makers and doers and it is very important to me to have something to fill my hands with.  I would also like to be able to pass these skills on to my daughter as they were passed on to me.

As from September my daughter will be in full time school and I plan on working three to four days in the office and having one or two days at home, ostensibly to get on with things at home but I would also like to spend this extra time sewing.  At the moment I do most of my sewing and knitting in the evenings but the Child is getting more and more interested in making things with me and sits on my knee occasionally while I sew.

One of my early makes for the Child, unfortunately I didn't always photograph things. 
Well, that was fun!  I hereby nominate Helen from Just Sew Therapeutic and Katy from Designs by BellaBug to write something if they wish to!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Class Picnics for Cousins!

Last time I saw my niece back in July I promised I would make her and the child matching outfits ready for our holiday to visit my parents in Switzerland.  My niece is besotted with Hello Kitty so that formed the basis for the pattern and fabric choice.

I just want to have a little chat about the fabric.  One of my reasons for sewing is because, like many people who sew, I am not content with the garment industry and the way workers are treated, or indeed just not knowing where my clothes come from.  I sew to take one process out of the construction of my clothes.  I still buy new fabric but feel better that at least I am the one making them.  For these tops the fabric I found was actually a duvet cover.  A brand new duvet cover.  So I haven't taken that step out and I don't feel completely happy about this.  However, it was a choice I made and I will live with it!

The duvet cover was a Liberty of London/Hello Kitty collaboration which I love.  The print is the London print.  The fabric for the shorts came from my parents' stash of fabric and I think it was originally bought to make curtains. It is fairly stiff and is good for things like shorts.  I have used this before for many things (I still have another 2 metres of this stuff!!).

The pattern is the Oliver & S Class Picnic top and shorts.   This is the first time I have sewn with this pattern and, as usual, everything went together very smoothly.  The tops were particularly quick to make and I had them done in one evening, including making piping to go between the yoke and the bodice. The shorts however were a bit more time consuming but I love the finish on them.  There are only two exposed seams on the inside of the shorts and all hems are covered by the facings.

I made both of these in size 5 as that is the smallest size in the pattern envelope (one is just 4 and the other is 4 and a half) and the fist is fine now, and big enough to hopefully last for another summer since we are almost at the end of this one.  The are both very happy with their matching outfits, and I can see that I have started something!  I am guessing they will be demanding matching outfits for every family holiday from now on!!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

New Look 6808

Two blog posts in two days - what is the world coming to?!! I am off on my holidays (again!) next week and have been finishing all sorts of stuff that needed doing before I go.  Unfortunately the cushion covers still haven't been completed but have been put on hold temporarily while I deal with other things.  Like this top which I have had cut out for over a month now!

I bought the fabric for this top in May at Goldhawk Road and shared it with Marilla, I cannot wait to see what she does with her fabric.  I think it is a silk mix, it's very lightweight and soft.  The yellow for the collar came from Stone Fabrics and is also a silk mix.

The pattern is New Look 6808 which I bought last year after seeing it on a few blogs, including Zoe's (I won her giveaway during Me Made May last year and made a top using it).  This is the pattern I am using for OWOP, although I did think I had made more of these but it turns out one is a Sorbetto!  I love the pattern but have so far only made view E because I love the collar. The one below was my favourite and was made to go with this skirt.

For this version I modified the collar using a wine glass (naturally!) to get the curves and left off the tie ends.  I underestimated the length of the collar so it doesn't quite meet in the middle which is why there is a button there.  I like it though!  The side seams are french seamed and the sleeves are fully lined for a neat finish.  This is the first time I have actually set in sleeves properly rather than sewing flat, and it went okay!  I'm not saying I will do it every time though as I quite like sewing sleeves flat.

I have another of these planned which will be made out of a recycled shirt a la Zoe.  I had hoped to have got it done before my holiday but with my list of things that I need to do growing day by day I have put that in the list of things to be done when I get back!   Luckily I will have access to a sewing machine while I'm away so I hope to get something accomplished there!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Really Quick Present Sewing

The Child has a birthday party to go to tomorrow so we decided to make a skirt.  The pattern is another great Oliver & S free download: the Lazy Days Skirt.  This is actually more of a tutorial than a pattern and it is very quick and very easy to make,  I made all of it with the Child sitting on my knee so she could have a sewing lesson at the same time!

We looked in my overflowing cupboard and found this (very pink) cakey fairy fabric which is a  Michael Miller print which I originally bought to make aprons with.  (This fabric also started a debate on the merits of the colour pink which I won't go into here except to provide photographic evidence that I do, sometimes, make pink clothes for the Child!)

...and pink piping and everything!
With a big pink bow......

20 minutes later and we had a skirt, all wrapped and ready to be taken to the party!  I think I will be doing this for all upcoming birthday parties!

Thursday, 14 August 2014


About 7 years ago I spent hours lovingly knitting a jumper for my then boyfriend.  It looked terrible on, it was about 3 sizes too big for him or anyone else I know.  I wish I had taken a picture of it but it was from my pre-Ravelry days so didn't document it, unfortunately.  Anyway, two house moves, a marriage and a child later I decided to unravel it and re-knit it into something useful.

I started knitting this last autumn but then fell out of love with it and with knitting so put it away.  Last week I suddenly had the urge to knit again, found this and about 3 hours later it was finished.  I have another project I have put away almost finished which I really should get out again one day.

The pattern came from a charity shop for 25p, the white in the wool was leftover from a previous project and the buttons were recycled off an earlier outgrown cardigan so this was a very cheap project.

I am not 100% happy with it, the button bands are not great, but it is finished and the Child likes it which is the main thing.  Because I had finished a project I have rewarded myself by buying some wool to make me a cardigan, which I am really enjoying knitting and I seem to have fallen back in love knitting again!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Overlocker and the Pants of Awesomeness!

All tidied up and waiting for the new arrival... 
Things have been very unproductive in these parts lately with very little actual sewing going on.  This has been caused by a number of factors all rolled into one big ball of frustration: chickenpox, tiredness caused by chickenpox, lack of white thread, broken car.  Happily today I am borrowing a car to rectify the thread situation so I should soon be up and running.

In other news this week, my new shiny birthday present overlocker arrived and it is amazing!  I had never used one before because I knew if I tried one I would want one and didn't think that would be happening any time soon.  My wonderful Mr Jenna surprised me by contacting a few people (thank you very much!) and then, as a surprise on my actual birthday, taking me to an overlocker demonstration on the model we would be getting.

Hello beautiful! 
There were various reasons why we decided to get this model, the most important being that it was from a local dealer, which therefore means local support should any problems arise, but also we believe in supporting local businesses.  

As I have run out of white thread, which I hardly ever use but suddenly need for everything on my list at the moment, I have been stuck with what to make.  So I decided to whip up some pants for the child using Kitschy Coo's amazing Unisex Underwear pattern.   

I have wanted to make this for some time but I just haven't got around to it.  This has been the perfect pattern for practicing using my overlocker and I have been amazed at how quickly I can whip a pair up.  No more buying knickers in this house!

I have been saving all my jersey scraps expressly for this use and I am so happy to get them out and use them.  I have a box full which won't shut at the moment so there will be plenty more on their way.  I put a button on the front of all the pants so the child can easily see which way round to put them on.  She is over the moon with all of these and has refused to take them off - which meant I had to make another pair this morning so I could get the others in the wash!

Pants of Awesomeness!
Happy faces all round!  If anyone has any good tips for using overlockers they would be gratefully received.  I have done some research on the internet and I think I kind of know what I'm doing but any information will help!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Village Flower Show

I live in a very villagy village and one of the things I love about living here is the traditional villagy things that go on.  The annual flower show is one of my favourite events and I love entering a few bits and pieces in it, not with the intention of winning anything, just because I like taking part!  I think a few years ago events like this were in danger of dying out as the age of crafters/gardeners/cooks was growing older but luckily there has been a resurgence in all things crafty lately and this year there was an excellent turn out at the show.  

This was taken fairly early on before all the entries had arrived
I entered six items in the handicraft category.  First up I made a craft bag to go in the bag section.  The outside of the bag is some Cath Kidston cotton duck I had leftover from a few years ago, the inside is some spotty Clarke & Clarke fabric and the pockets on the outside was gifted to me by the lovely Katrina of Oh Sew Cultured.  I am amazed at how similar the Cath Kidston fabric and the Clarke & Clarke fabric is despite the £10 per metre price difference - although I did buy the CK in the sale so they were probably the same price.

The crochet roll is made using the same fabrics and was entered into the "item made with a sewing machine" category.  I love the vagueness of this!  Luckily I wanted to make my Mum a new craft bag and crochet roll for her birthday present so these two items slotted into the show schedule neatly! 

Next up was a tea cosy.  All the fabrics here are left over from other projects, the main fabric is a printed denim which is nice and sturdy and helps give the tea cosy some shape.  I loved making this and I have a feeling there may be more tea cosies in my life!  

For my lavender bag I embroidered a little picture on some white cotton (I picked up some embroidery threads in a charity shop for 25p and they have been really useful!) and used some Liberty scraps to make the rest of the bag with a bit of lace around the outside.  There were only two entrants into this category and this came 2nd!

Lastly, I made a cushion cover.  I love this cushion because all the fabrics used in it have been used to make clothes for either the Child or me which makes it feel really special.  This is to go in her bedroom in a reading corner.  Because the cover is quilted it makes it feel really squishy and she loves it - win!

In total I got three firsts, two seconds and an unplaced.  I really enjoyed taking part and seeing all the other makes.  It is always so enjoyable seeing how other people interpret the categories, and just being nosy and seeing what other people make!  My favourite is the dog tea cosy below which came first in the category, I was so pleased it won!

The only down side of the day is that the Child came down with chicken pox yesterday so wasn't able to go with me.  She won her own share of prizes, including two trophies, and I know she was so disappointed at not being able to go.  She is already talking about what she is going to make for next year!

My entries!